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S. G. and E. L. ELBERT 

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al'thor op death struggles of slavery j scenes in the 
caribbean; the reign of terror; romance withou? 
fiction; the stolen children; apostles and*' 
apostles; jehovah's decree of predestination, etcT7 


LONDON: -*■> 





Chapter i. 


** oston, in the State of 
» Massachusetts, is, in a 


.^literary sense, the 

* Athens of the United 

States of America, and 


-v% *•/ 

a city of historical importance ; for 
there commenced that series of 
events which produced the revolu- 
tion of 1768, and gave birth to one of 
the greatest and most powerful 
nations in the world. 

Having assisted in the Sabbath services on the 
preceding day, I was invited by one of the minis- 
ters of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the city 
to accompany him, on Monday forenoon, to the 



" Preachers' Meeting." This I found to be a 
weekly gathering of the ministers of the denomi- 
nation resident in the city and its vicinity, 
originally convened for conversation on Church 
matters ; but in course of time it had swept into 
a broader range, and took up the discussion of all 
subjects of thought in theology and ethics. 

It was a beautiful morning in the July of 1858. 
Having accepted the courteous invitation, I accom- 
panied my friend, at the appointed hour, to the 
Methodist book-store in Cornhill. Passing through 
the well-stocked store, after being presented to the 
gentleman in charge of the " Concern," we as- 
cended a narrow, winding, iron staircase, which 
conducted us to a room of not very large dimen- 
sions, where I found assembled not less than forty 
or fifty gentlemen of various ages, just rising from 
their knees after the preliminary devotional exer- 
cises. A venerable-looking gentleman in clerical 
black and white cravat occupied the presidential 
chair, to whom, addressing him as " Father Merrill," 
my friend presented me as a missionary from the 
West Indies, in connexion with the British Con- 
ference. Extending to me a courteous welcome, 
Father Merrill invited me to take a seat near 
himself, observing that when the proper time 
arrived he would have the pleasure of introducing 
me to the meeting. 


Taking the seat allotted to me, I listened with 
interest to u the order of the day," which I found to 
be a discussion on " the identity of the resurrection 
foody." This was carried on with much animation, 
the rules of debate being strictly observed. While 
the argument was proceeding, I looked around upon 
the group of persons assembled, all of whom seemed 
to be profoundly interested in the discussion. The 
place I occupied was favourable to observation. I 
could see every person in the room, several of 
whom attracted my particular attention. Near to 
me, and taking a leading and able part in the 
debate, was a fine, muscular-looking man, in the 
full vigour of early manhood ; whom, from his dress, 
I should not, had I met him elsewhere, have taken 
to be a clergyman, as he was clothed in an entire 
suit of light grey tweed, with a black neck-tie. 
This was, as I afterwards learned, the Rev. Gilbert 
Haven, then in charge of one of the suburban 
churches, and afterwards to become the able editor 
of " Sion's Herald," the leading Methodist paper of 
New England ; and, ultimately, one of the bishops 
of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Near to him, 
and occasionally interposing some caustic or 
humorous observation, was a man far advanced in 
life, whose large, lively, expressive countenance, 
full of deep furrows, seemed to mark him out as no 
ordinary man. And, indeed, he was not an ordinary 

B 2 


man; but one who possessed the true nobility 

of genius, and stood out prominently among the 

celebrities of the age in which he lived. I knew 

him not by name, as I listened to the striking and 

beautiful words that occasionally dropped from his 

lips, and admired the brilliant light that flashed 

from his eyes, while his glasses were pushed up 

upon the broad and wrinkled brow. But afterwards 

I was introduced to him as " Father Taylor," the 

seamen's apostle, and the pastor of the Sailors* 

Home in Boston ; a man of whom Harriet Mar* 

tineau, J. Silk Buckingham, Charles Dickens, Miss 

Bremer, John Ross Dix, Miss Sedgwick, and Mrs. 

Jameson, have all written in terms of glowing 

eulogy, as an original genius, and one of the most 

celebrated of American preachers. All classes 

flocked to the humble seamen's church, where 

Father Taylor's eccentric eloquence and wit 

delighted, amused, and thrilled the multitude, and 

the preaching became, on a large scale, the power 

of God unto salvation to the blue jackets, who, in 

every port in the world, heard of the sailor preacher, 

and bent their footsteps to the Mariners' Church 

whenever they found themselves in the Boston 


* In " The Liberal Christian," the Rev. Dr. Bellows- 
sketched the following portrait :— " Thirty years ago there 
was no pulpit in Boston around which the lovers of genius 


At the end of the room, most distant from where 
I was sitting, there was another individual who at 

and eloquence gathered so often, or from such different 
quarters, as that in the Bethel at the remote North End, where 
Father Taylor preached. A square, firm-knit man, below the 
middle height, with sailor written in every look and motion; 
his face weather-beaten with outward and inward storms ; 
pale, intense, nervous, with the most extraordinary dramatic 
play of features; eyes on fire, often quenched in tears; mouth 
contending between laughter and sobs ; brow wrinkled, and 
working like a flapping foresail — he gave forth those wholly 
exceptional utterances, half prose and half poetry, in which 
sense and rhapsody, piety and wit, imagination and humour, 
shrewdness and passion, were blended in something never 
heard before, and certain never to be heard again. It is 
difficult to say how far the charm of his speech was due to his 
uneducated diction and a method that drew nothing from the 
schools. He broke in upon the prim propriety of an ethical 
era, and a formal style of preaching, with a passionate fervour 
that gave wholly new sensations to a generation that had 
successfully expelled all strong emotions from public speech. 
He roared like a lion, and cooed like a dove, and scolded and 
caressed, and brought forth laughter and tears. In truth, he 
was a dramatic genius, and equally great in the conception 
and the personation of his parts. With much original force 
of understanding, increased by contact with the rough world 
in many countries, he possessed an imagination which was 
almost Shakespearian in its vigour and flash. It quickened 
all the raw material of his mind into living things. His ideas 
came forth with hands and feet, and took hold of the earth 
and the heavens. He had a heart as tender as his mind was 


once attracted my attention, and whose presence 
in such an assembly awakened in me a feeling of 
surprise and curiosity. I knew how strong was 
the prejudice concerning colour in the Northern 
Free States, and that even in Methodist churches, 
there was to be found the Negro pew in some corner 
of the gallery, to keep the despised ones entirely 
apart from their fellow worshippers. But there, in 
that grave assembly of divines, to my great surprise, 

1 saw an unmistakable scion of the Negro race ; 

strong, and his imagination Protean ; and this gave such a 
sympathetic quality to his voice and his whole manner, that, 
more than any speaker of power we ever knew, he was the 
master of pathos. Who can forget how rough sailors, and 
beautiful and cultivated Boston girls, and men like Webster 
and Emerson, and shop-boys and Cambridge students, and 
Jenny Lind and Miss Bremer and Harriet Martineau, and 
everybody of taste or curiosity who visited Boston, were seen 
weeping together with Father Taylor, himself almost afloat 
again in his own tears, as he described some tender incident in 
the forecastle, some sailor's death-bed, some recent shipwreck, 
or sent his life-boat to the rescue of some drowning soul* 
Unique, a man of genius, a great nature, a whole soul,, 
wonderful in conversation, tremendous in off-hand speeches,, 
greatest of all in the pulpit, he was, perhaps, the most original 
preacher, and one of the most effective pulpit and platform 
orators America has produced. And, alas ! nothing remains 
of him but his memory and his influence. He will be an 
incredible myth in another generation. Let us who knew him 
well keep his true image before us as long as we can." 


taking no part in the discussion, it is true, but 
manifestly regarded by those who sat near him as 
" a man and a brother." He exhibited a person of 
the middle size, firm and well knit ; his skin was of 
the true African jet ; and clothed in a new glossy 
suit of clerical broad cloth, he was all over black, 
except the spotless cravat and a set of pearly 
white teeth, that might have been made of the 
finest ivory Africa can produce, so brightly did they 
glitter, when some flash of oratory in the debate, or 
some sally of Father Taylor's sparkling wit, caused 
the broad African features to expand into a smile, or 
provoked a hearty laugh. And this was very often 
the case. Again and again, as I sat and looked 
upon him, did laughter spread itself over all the 
lines of his countenance, and tell of a rollicking, 
fun-loving spirit, that could not often, or for long 
together, be clouded with gloom. 

After I had addressed the meeting at the invita- 
tion of the chairman, and replied to many questions 
concerning the results of emancipation in the West 
Indies, — the slavery question beingthe all-absorbing 
topic of the day, I was introduced to Mr. Haven, 
Father Taylor, Dr. Whedon, who like myself was a 
visitor, and many others ; among them the coloured 
gentleman whom I had regarded with such lively 
curiosity. " This," said Mr. Merrill, " is Father 
Henson, the original of Mrs. Stowe's famous Uncle 


Tom. He was a slave in the Southern States, but 
escaped to Canada ; where he has founded a large 
settlement of fugitives, and lives among them as a 
patriarch and a preacher of the Gospel." On look- 
ing at him more closely as he stood before me, 
holding a glossy white beaver hat in one hand, 
while he extended to me the other in friendly saluta- 
tion, I observed that both his arms were crippled, 
so that he could by no means use them freely. 
11 Our friend Henson, you see," remarked Mr, 
Haven, " has had his share of suffering, and 
slavery has left its mark upon him." The injury 
referred to, as I afterwards learned from himself, 
had been inflicted by the cruelty of an overseer in 
the slave land, from which he had happily made his 
escape. Such was my first introduction to Josiah 
Henson, the maimed fugitive slave preacher. A 
few evenings later I met him by invitation at the 
house of a friend ; and frequently afterwards I was 
favoured with his company in walking home to my 
lodgings, after I had addressed congregations in 
the city churches on the emancipation of the slaves 
in the British colonies, — a subject in which he felt 
and manifested a deep and lively interest. Wher- 
ever I spoke on this subject, in or near the city, I 
was sure to see the dark, bright countenance of 
" Father Henson " upturned in the congregation; 
and he often waited at the door to join me in my 


homeward walk. On these occasions, in answer to 
my inquiries, he entered in his own lively and 
animated style into details of his past history; 
which I found to be interspersed with scenes and 
adventures more thrilling than those which are 
pictured in the pages of many a novel. Kindly 
assisted by Mrs. Harriet B. Stowe, he had written 
and published a history of his life, and of the 
numerous journeys he had made into the slave 
land, after his own escape from slavery, for the 
purpose of assisting others to gain their liberty. A 
copy of this publication I obtained from himself. 
I was so much interested in my sable friend that I 
made notes of the conversations I had with him 
from time to time. From the materials thus 
obtained I have been enabled to sketch the follow- 
ing narrative ; marking, as I proceed, the vicissitudes 
of a somewhat extraordinary career, not likely to be 
repeated in actual life, now that American slavery, 
with its sanginuary oppressions, the underground 
railway with its mysteries, and the daring adventures 
of fugitives to escape to a free land, are numbered 
with the things of the past. 

Chapter ii. 


ow fearfully blinded 
by prejudice and in- 
terest must those min- 
isters of the Gospel 
have been, who 
once stood boldly forth to advo- 
cate the Divine right of the slave- 
holder ! A more fearful wrong 
could not be done to human beings 
than that which was inflicted upon 
the millions who were born to an 
inheritance of slavery in the Southern States of the 
American Union. Brought into the world by a 
slave mother, the poor slave child, before he could 
possibly be guilty of any offence to incur such a 
penalty, — before he could inhale the vital air, — was 
plundered of all the rights of humanity and doomed 
to be a chattel, — doomed body and soul to be the 
property of another ; deprived of the right to dispose 
of his own time, to enjoy the fruit of his own labour, 
to have his own wife, and to dispose of and con- 


trol his own children ! Such was the patrimony 
of the subject of this sketch. 

He was born in June, 1789, in Charles County ,, 
State of Maryland, on a farm belonging to a Mr. 
Francis Newman, situated about a mile from Port 
Tobacco. His mother was hired out to work on 
this farm, being the slave of a Dr. Josiah M'Pher- 
son, and here it was that she met with and was 
married to the father of Josiah. The slave in 
America, as elsewhere, followed the fortunes of the 
mother, and Josiah's mother being the property of 
M'Pherson, her child likewise became his slave 
M'Pherson was one of a class by no means uncom- 
mon amongst slaveholders. A man of good 
generous impulses, liberal, jovial, and hearty, he 
was far more kind to his slaves than the planters 
generally were, never suffering them to be punished 
or struck by any one. No degree of arbitrary 
power could ever lead him to forget, like others, 
the claims of humanity, and exercise cruelty 
towards his dependents. As the first Negro child 
ever born to him, Josiah became his pet. He gave 
him his own Christian name, and added to it the 
name of Henson, after an uncle of his, whose 
memory he revered, and who was an officer in the 
Revolutionary war. 

Josiah knew very little concerning his father ; 
and that little was of a tragical character, forming 


an episode in his own history that remained, all 
through life, a dark spot upon his memory. This, 
he observed, was the only incident concerning his 
mother's husband which, in after years, he could 
call to mind. One day his father appeared among 
his fellow slaves with his head all bloody, his back 
fearfully lacerated, and almost beside himself with 
mingled rage and suffering. Child as he was, no 
explanation was given to Josiah concerning the 
cruel punishment to which his father had been sub- 
jected ; but, shrewd and intelligent beyond his 
years, he picked up from the conversation of others 
an outline of the facts, which made an indelible 
impression upon his memory, and as he grew older 
he clearly understood it all. 

While he was at work in the field, Josiah's father 
heard screams arising from a retired spot near 
at hand, which he recognised as coming from his 
own wife. He threw down his hoe, and hastened to 
the place whence the screams proceeded. Mad- 
dened by a brutal outrage which had been inflicted 
upon his wife by the overseer, an outrage common 
-enough in the slave land, he flew like a tiger upon 
the aggressor. 

He was a man of great muscular power, and in 
the full vigour of his manhood. The cowardly, 
trembling overseer had no chance with his assail- 
ant. In a moment he was down, and there and 


then his wicked life would have been brought to a 
sudden end by the furious husband, had not the 
wife interposed to prevent such a catastrophe. The 
humbled caitiff was allowed to rise and depart, pro- 
mising, in the most abject manner, that nothing* 
more should ever be said concerningthe punishment 
he had justly received. The promise was kept — 
like most promises of the cowardly and debased— 
only as long as the danger lasted. 

The laws of the slave states provided ample 
means and opportunities for ruffianly revenge to 
such aggressors as this overseer. " A nigger had 
struck a white man !" That was enough to set a 
whole county on fire. No question was asked about 
the provocation : that was a matter of indifference. 
The fact, that the hand of a Negro had been raised 
against the sacred person of a white man, was a 
crime so terrible in the eyes of slaveholders that 
nothing could possibly excuse it, no provocation 
whatsoever could justify it. The authorities were 
speedily in pursuit of the daring offender, and he 
must be brought to condign punishment. For 
awhile he kept out of the way, hiding in the woods,, 
venturing only at night into some cabin in search 
of food. But this could not continue long. A 
watch so strict was set that all supplies were cut 
off, and, starved out, he was compelled at length 
to surrender, and give himself up to the tender 
mercies of his foes. 


The penalty pronounced for this offence, of 
defending his wife from outrage, was a hundred 
lashes on the bare back, and to have the right 
-ear nailed to the whipping post, and then severed 
from the head. This reminds us of the days 
-when Englishmen groaned under the rule of the 
Stuarts, and, for trivial offences against the majesty 
-of feudal tyrants, were subjected to similar treat- 
ment, — mutilation, and the pillory. The day for the 
execution of the sentence arrived. From all the sur- 
rounding plantations the Negroes were summoned, 
for their moral improvement, to witness the edifying 
scene ; and the planters from all around assembled to 
revel in an enjoyment so congenial to their tastes. 
A powerful blacksmith, named Hewes, whose 
trawny arm, with its muscles fully developed by 
years of toil, qualified him well for the task, laid 
on the stripes. Fifty were given with all the 
power of the inflicter, during which the sufferer's 
cries might be heard a mile away ; and then a 
pause ensued. True, he had struck a white man : 
t>ut he is valuable property, and must not be so 
damaged as to be disabled for work. Experienced 
men feel his pulse. It is not, as yet, very much 
lowered: he can stand the whole. Again and 
again the cruel thong falls upon the lacerated, 
gory back, the cries grow fainter and fainter, until 
a feeble groan is the only response yielded to the 


final stripes. His head, now that the flogging is 
over, is rudely thrust against the post to which he 
is tied, and the right ear fastened to it with a nail. 
A swift pass of a knife, and the bleeding mem- 
ber is left sticking where it has been nailed. Then 
comes a loud hurrah from the whites crowding 
around, as one of them exclaims, " That's what 
he got for striking a white man!" A few of the 
spectators frowned upon the deed of blood, and 
said, " It is a shame ! " But the majority approved 
and applauded the whole proceeding as a proper 
tribute to the white man's offended dignity. A 
blow at one white man was looked upon as a blow 
levelled at the whole community of slaveowners. 
It was felt to be as the muttering and upheaving of 
volcanic fires underlying and threatening to burst 
forth and utterly consume the whole social fabric. 
Chronic fear of insurrection was the condition in 
which the whites lived ; and terror is the fiercest 
nurse of cruelty, as was fearfully manifested in the 
Jamaica panic of 1865, when so many lives were 
sacrificed through the utterly groundless fright, 
which rendered the local authorities incapable of 
the exercise of anything like sound judgment and 

Previous to this occurrence, Josiah's father had 
been one of the most light-hearted and good- 
tempered men in the neighbourhood, and a ring- 


leader in all the fun and jollity that marked the 
corn-huskings and the Christmas buffooneries of 
the slaves. His banjo was often in requisition* 
and he was the life of the farm ; often playing all 
night at a merrymaking while the other Negroes 
danced. But from the hour that he passed through 
this cruel punishment he became utterly changed* 
The milk of human kindness in his heart was 
turned into gall. He brooded over his wrongs, 
and became sullen, morose, and dogged. All the 
elasticity of his nature seemed to have departed 
utterly, and he became so intractable and ferocious 
that nothing could be done with him. No fear or 
threats of being sold to the far South — the greatest 
of all terrors to the slaves in the border states — 
could produce any effect upon him, or make him 
the buoyant, tractable slave he had been before. 
No amount of punishment could subdue or break 
his spirit. So he was sent off to Alabama, and 
Josiah saw his father never more. " What was 
his after fate," said Josiah, " neither I nor my 
mother have ever learned ; the great day will 
reveal all." Thus husband and wife were parted, 
and father and child were severed, to meet no more 
until the great day, when the wrong-doer and his 
victim shall stand before the righteous Judge of 
quick and dead, and " every one shall give account 
of himself to God." 


After the sale of this poor fellow to the South, 
Rf 'Pherson, the owner of Josiah's mother, would 
no longer hire out the injured wife to Newman ; 
for he was amongst those who looked with abhor- 
rence upon the cruelty that had been practised 
towards the husband. She accordingly returned 
to the farm of her owner, a widowed wife. Treated 
with indulgence, and petted by his master, Josiah 
felt little of the bitterness of slavery ; but one of 
those changes was at hand, which often brought 
a dark cloud over the condition and prospects of 
kindly treated slaves, and sadly changed the whole 
current of their existence. M'Pherson was not 
exempt from that failing which too often besets 
and ensnares persons of easy temper and disposi- 
tion in a drinking, dissipated community. Although 
he was esteemed as a man possessing much good- 
ness of heart, kind and benevolent to all around 
him, he could not restrain his convivial propensi- 
ties. The fiend of intemperance laid his iron grasp 
upon him, and he became utterly incapable of 
resisting the habit that steadily grew upon and 
enthralled him. This, as in a multitude of other 
cases, brought him to a premature grave. Two of 
the Negroes of the plantation found him one morn- 
ing lying dead in a narrow stream of water, not a 
foot in depth. He had been away from home on 
the previous night at a drinking party, and when 



returning home had fallen from his horse. Too 
much intoxicated to help himself out of the shallow 
stream into which he fell, he had lain there and 
perished. Josiah could well remember, though he 
was but a child when the event occurred, the scene 
of the accident, as pointed out to him in these 
words, " That's the place where Massa got 
drownded at." 

Chapter iii. 


t is a blessing unspeak- 
ably great in any con- 
H| dition of life, to have a 
4f pious mother ! How 
\ largely does the destiny 
of the child in most cases 

depend on the mother ! And how 
many owe all their success in life, 
and all their hope of heaven, to the 
loving counsels, care, and prayers 
of godly mothers I Who does not 
remember how all that was good and great in 
Doddridge, and Curran, and the Wesleys, was at- 
tributable, under God, to the influence shed upon 
them in early life by their mothers ? In his lowly 
and almost hopeless condition, Josiah was favoured 
with this inestimable advantage — a pious, praying 
mother, watching over and tending his infant and 
childish days. How or where she acquired her 
knowledge of God, and her acquaintance with the 

c 2 


Lord's Prayer, josiah never knew : but, he said, 
" She was a good mother to us, anxious above all 
things to touch her children's hearts with a sense 
of religion, and bring them up in the ways of the 
Lord. She frequently taught us to repeat the 
beautiful words of the Lord's Prayer, and I remem- 
ber seeing her often on her knees in our little cabin 
trying to express her thoughts and petitions in 
prayers appropriate to her situation and wants. 
They amounted to little more than constant fervent 
ejaculations, and the repetition of short familiar 
phrases ; but they were the utterances of a devout 
and humble mind, offered up in all faith and sin- 
cerity ; and doubtless had power to prevail with 
God. They made a deep impression on my infant 
mind, and have remained in my memory to this 

The death of Dr. M'Pherson was a most painful 
event to his friends, but it was a far greater 
calamity to his unfortunate slaves. For two or 
three years after her husband was sold and sent 
South, Josiah's mother and her six children had 
resided in comfort on her master's plantation ; and 
they had been happy together. Now, alas ! their 
term of happy union as one family must come to 
an end. The death of the owner of slaves was 
often the occasion of wide-spread grief and woe 
amongst his dependents, causing as it did their 


sale and scattering; the dearest ties being reck- 
lessly rent asunder, and families often broken up 
and parted, never to see, or even hear of, each other 
again. So it was to be with the family of which 
Josiah was one of the child members. M'Pherson's 
estate and slaves had to be sold, and the proceeds 
divided among the heirs ; and they were regarded 
only in the light of property, not as a tender mother 
and the children which God had given her. 

Common as slave auctions were in the Southern 
States, and naturally as a slave might look forward 
to the time when he would be put up on the block, 
the full misery of the event, the anguish and 
suffering which precede and follow the slave 
-auction, could only be understood when the actual 
experience came. The first sad announcement 
that the sale was to be ; the knowledge that all ties 
of the past were to be sundered ; the frantic terror 
at the idea of being sent " down South ;" the almost 
certainty that one member of the family would be 
torn from another ; the anxious scanning of pur- 
chasers' faces ; the agony of parting for ever with 
husband, wife, child — these must be seen and felt to 
be fully understood. " Young as I was then," said 
Josiah, " the iron entered into my soul. The re- 
membrance of the breaking up of M'Pherson's 
estate is stamped in its minutest features upon my 
mind. The crowd collected around the stand ; the 


huddling group of terrified Negroes ; the examina- 
tion of muscle, teeth, and limbs, and the exhibition 
of agility ; the look of the auctioneer ; the agony 
of my mother I I can never forget them ! I shut 
my eyes, and I see them all." 

Josiah was the youngest ; and^the elder children 
were bid off first, one by one, while the mother, 
paralysed with grief, held him by the hand. Her 
turn came, and she was bought by a man named 
Isaac Riley, of Montgomery county. Then little 
Josiah was offered to the assembled purchasers. 
The loving mother, half distracted with the thought 
of parting for ever with all her children, pushed 
through the crowd, while the bidding for Josiah was 
going on, to the spot where Riley, her new owner, 
was standing. She fell at his feet, and embraced 
his knees, entreating him in tones which only a 
mother could command, and with many tears, to 
buy her " baby" as well as herself, and spare to her 
one at least of her little ones. It can scarcely be 
believed, yet it is true, that this man, thus appealed 
to, not only turned a deaf ear to the agonized sup- 
pliant, but disengaged himself from her with curses 
and blows and kicks, and sent her creeping out of 
his reach with the groan of bodily suffering min- 
gling with the sob of a breaking heart. " I must 
have been then/' said Josiah, " between five and 
six years old. I seem to see and hear my poor 


weeping mother now. This was one of my earliest 
observations of men, but an experience which I 
only shared with thousands of my race, the bitter- 
ness of which to any individual who suffers it 
cannot be diminished by the frequency of its re- 
currence ; while it is dark enough to overshadow 
the whole after life with something blacker than a 
funeral pall." 

Josiah was bought by a stranger named Robb, 
" and truly," he said, " a robber he was to me. He 
took me to his home, about forty miles distant, 
and put me into his Negro quarters, with about 
forty or fifty others, of all ages, colours, and condi- 
tions, and all strangers to me. Of course nobody 
cared for me. The slaves were brutalized by their 
degradation, and could feel no sympathy for the 
suffering child thus torn from his mother, and thrust 
in amongst them. I soon fell sick, and lay for some 
days almost dead upon the ground. Sometimes 
one of the slaves would give me a piece of corn 
bread or a bit of herring, but I became so feeble 
that I could not move. This, however, turned out 
to be fortunate for me ; for in the course of a few 
weeks Robb met with Riley, who had bought my 
mother, and offered to sell me to him cheap. Riley 
said he was afraid the little devil would die, and he 
did not want to buy a dead nigger ! They finally 
struck a bargain, Riley agreeing to pay a small sum 

24 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

for me in horseshoeing, if I lived, and nothing if I 
died, Robb was a tavern-keeper, the owner of a line 
of stages, with the horses belonging to them, and 
lived near Montgomery court house. Riley carried 
on a blacksmith business about five miles from that 
place. After this arrangement was agreed upon, I 
was soon sent to my mother, and a blessed, grateful 
change it was to me. I had been lying on a lot of 
filthy rags thrown upon a dirt floor. All day long 
I was left alone, crying sometimes for water, some- 
times for mother, whose loving care I greatly 
missed : for the other slaves, who went out to their 
work at daybreak, gave no attention to me. It 
mattered nothing to them whether I lived or died. 
Now I was once more with my best friend on earth, 
and tenderly cared for with all a mother's love, 
intensified as it was by the cruel bereavement of 
all her other children. She was destitute of all 
means of ministering to my comfort ; but, never- 
theless, she nursed me into health, and I became 
vigorous and strong beyond most boys of the same 

The new master, Riley, into whose hands Josiah 
fell when he returned to his mother's care, was 
coarse and vulgar in his habits, profligate, unprin- 
cipled, and cruel. He suffered the unfortunate 
beings who were his slaves to have little oppor- 
tunity of relaxation from wearying labour, supplying 


them scantily with necessary food, so that they 
had often to endure the sharp pangs of hunger, and 
acted fully on the principle that his slaves possessed 
" no rights which he was bound to respect." The 
natural tendency of slavery is to make the master 
a tyrant, which the nobler dispositions of a few 
enable them to overcome, and to convert the slaves 
into the cringing, treacherous, false, and thieving 
victims of oppression, which many of them became, 
when not brought under the elevating influences of 
religion. Riley and his slaves were apt illustrations 
of this tendency of the system to degrade and 
brutalize both the master and his dependents. 

The earliest employments of the child-chattel, 
Josiah, were to carry water to the slaves at their 
work, and to hold a horse plough, used for weeding 
between the rows of corn. As he grew older and 
taller he was entrusted with the care of his master's 
saddle horse, in which occupation he continued for 
several years, enjoying many a stolen ride. But 
while quite a stripling a hoe was put into his 
hands, and he was required to do the work of a 
man. " It was not long," said Josiah, "before I 
could do it, at least as well as any of my associates 
in misery." 

The principal food of the slaves on Riley's plan- 
tation consisted of a stinted allowance of corn-meal 
and salt herrings. To this was added, 'in summer, 


a little buttermilk and the few vegetables which 
each might be able to raise on the little piece of 
ground assigned to him, called a truck patch. In 
ordinary times they had two meals a day : — break- 
fast at twelve o'clock, after labouring from daybreak, 
and supper at night, when the work of the day was 
over. In harvest they had three meals, the hours 
of toil being prolonged to the uttermost point of 
endurance. Their dress was of tow cloth ; for the 
children only a shirt : for the older ones a pair of 
pantaloons, or a gown, in addition. A woollen hat 
was given to each once in two or three years, and 
once a year a coarse pair of shoes. In the winter 
a jacket or oveicoat was added to their equipment. 
On Riley's farm anything like comfortable cabins 
for his slaves was out of the question. They were 
lodged in log huts, on the bare ground, wooden 
floors being an unknown luxury. All ideas of re- 
finement or decency were disregarded. In a single 
room were huddled like cattle ten or a dozen men, 
women, and children. There were neither bedsteads 
nor furniture of any description. The beds were 
collections of old rags and straw, thrown down in 
the corners, and boxed in with any old boards they 
could find and appropriate to such a purpose, a 
single blanket the only covering. The w T ind whistled, 
and the rain and snow blew in through the cracks, 
and the damp earth soaked in the moisture till the 


floor was miry as a pig-sty. In these wretched 
hovels were the slaves penned at night and fed by 
day; here were the children born, and the sick and 
dying neglected. 

Notwithstanding these discomforts and hardships, 
Josiah, lovingly fostered by his mother, grew to be 
a robust and vigorous boy, " lively as a young buck," 
as he described himself, " and running over with 
animal spirits, ,, so that few could compete with him 
in work or sport. He could run faster, wrestle 
better, and jump higher than any about him. All 
this caused his master and fellow slaves to look 
upon him as a very smart fellow. His vanity was 
inflamed, and he fully coincided in their opinion. 
"Julius Caesar/' he said, "never aspired and 
plotted for the imperial crown more ambitiously 
than did I to out-hoe, out-reap, out-husk, out-dance, 
out-everything, every competitor! and from all I 
can learn he never enjoyed his triumphs half so 
much. One word of commendation from the petty 
despot who ruled over us would set me up for a 
month. I have no desire to represent the life of 
slavery as nothing but an experience of misery, 
God be praised, that however hedged in by un- 
favouring circumstances the joyful exuberance of 
youth will bound at times over them all. Ours is 
a light-hearted race. The sternest and most 
covetous master cannot frighten or whip the fun 

28 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

quite out of us ; certainly old Riley never did out 
of me. In those days I had many a merry time ; 
and would have had if I had lived with nothing but 
mocassins and rattlesnakes in Okafenoke swamp. 
Slavery did its best to make me wretched ; but 
nature, or the blessed God of youth and joy, was 
mightier than slavery. Along with the memories 
of miry cabins, frostbitten feet, weary toil under the 
blazing sun, curses and blows, there flock in others 
of jolly Christmas times, dances before old massa's 
door for the first drink of egg-nog, extra meat at 
holiday times, midnight visits to apple-orchards, 
broiling stray chickens, and first-rate tricks to dodge 
work. The God who makes the lamb to gambol, 
and the kitten play, and the bird sing, and the fish 
leap, was the Author in me of many a light-hearted 
hour. True it was, indeed, that the fun and frolic 
of Christmas, at which time my master relaxed his 
front, was generally followed by a reaction, under 
which he drove and cursed worse than ever. Still 
the fun and the frolic v/ere fixed facts. We had 
enjoyed them, and he could not help it." 

But the exuberance of animal spirits, which 
characterized the slave boy, was not all expended 
in useless, selfish frolic. Under the prayerful 
training of that good slave mother, the thoughtless 
lad had been taught to cherish a kindly sympathy 
towards others who had less to make them happy, 


and more to make them wretched, than he had ; 
and he was often led to exercise the spirit of 
adventure in which he delighted to soothe and 
lighten the sorrows of those around him. The 
miseries which he saw many of the women suffer 
often filled him with sorrow. Compelled to perform 
unfit labour, sick, suffering, and bearing the peculiar 
burdens of their own sex unpitied and unaided, as 
well as the toils which belong to the other, his 
enderest sympathies were often aroused in their 
behalf. " No white knight, rescuing white fair 
ones from cruel oppression, ever felt the throbbing 
of a chivalrous heart more intensely than I, a black 
slave boy, did, in running down a chicken in an 
out-of-the-way place to hide till dark, and then 
carry it to some poor, overworked, black fair one* 
to whom it was at once food, luxury, and medicine. 
No Scotch borderer, levying black mail, or sweeping 
off a drove of cattle, ever felt more assured of the 
justice of his act than I of mine, in driving a mile 
or two into the woods a pig or a sheep, and 
slaughtering it for the good of those whom Riley 
was starving. I love and admire the sentiment 
of chivalry, with the splendid environment of castles, , 
and tilts, and gallantry, in which poets and 
romancers have set it forth. And this was all the 
exercise of chivalry that my circumstances and 
condition of life permitted, myself the dark-skinned. 

30 josiah: the maimed fugitive, 

paladin, Dinah or Patsy the outraged maiden, and 
old Riley as the grim oppressor. However mis- 
taken my views of rectitude may then have been, 
these deeds of boyish adventure to relieve the 
sufferers around me were my training in the luxury 
of doing good, and sprang from a righteous indig- 
nation against the cruel and the oppressive." 

Chapter iv. 


he mind and heart of 
Josiah, unconsciously to 
himself, were influenced 
largely by the beautiful 
example, and the prayers 
and counsels, of his pious 
mother ; and doubtless 
they thus received from her a 
tendency in the right direction. 
By his mother he was led to 
think much of God. From her 
he learnt that there was in him an undying soul, 
and that to save him and all sinners God, the loving 
Father, sent His own Son into the world to suffer 
and to die. In that mother, ignorant and enslaved 
as she was, he saw daily exemplified the beauty 
and power of religion ; and he was, amid all 
the frivolity which was natural to him in a 
high degree, often led by her conversation to 
think deeply concerning God and the things per- 
taining to the soul and its destiny. He was thus 


prepared for an event that was to change and mould 
the whole of his future existence, and bring the 
grateful answer to his mother's unceasing prayers 
on his behalf. 

At Georgetown, a few miles from Riley's farm, 
lived a white man whose name was John M'Kenny. 
His ousiness was that of a baker; his character 
that of an upright benevolent Christian, who lived 
the religion that he professed. He was noted for his 
detestation of slavery ; and he resolutely avoided 
the employment of slave labour in his business. 
He would not even hire a slave the price of whose 
labour must be paid to the master, but carried on 
his business with his own hands and such free 
labour as he could procure; content with small 
profits uncontaminated by wrong doing, rather 
than the increase of wealth he might have com- 
manded had he been less scrupulous and conscien- 
tious. This singular abstinence from what no one 
about him thought wrong, and the probity and ex- 
cellence of his character, procured for him great 
respect, and prepared the way for great usefulness 
to his fellow man. M' Kenny often took upon him 
the work of preaching the Gospel ; for at that period 
ministers of Christ were rare in the neighbourhood, 
and the inhabitants had few opportunities of hear- 
ing the truth. Thus he was a great light in a dark 
place, and many through his preaching were led to^ 


the sinner's Friend. Not a few crushed and heart- 
broken slaves received through him those heavenly 
consolations which were so well suited to their sor- 
rowful condition, and welcome as the water-spring 
in the desert land. 

One Sabbath this good man was to preach at a 
few miles' distance from Riley's plantation, and 
Josiah's mother, anxious above all things for the 
soul of her child, urged him to ask his master's 
permission to go and hear him. He had often 
been beaten for making such a request, and assigned 
this as a reason for refusing to comply with his 
mother's wishes. She told him, " You will never 
be a true Christian if you are to be afraid of a beat- 
ing," and persisted in urging him to make the 
request, adding, " Like the good Massa, you must 
take up the cross and bear it." To gratify her, and 
dry up the tears which his refusal of her wishes 
called forth, Josiah resolved to try the experiment, 
and accordingly went and asked Riley's permission 
to go to the meeting. Somewhat to his surprise, 
the favour was accorded with less scolding and 
cursing than he expected, but with a pretty distinct 
intimation of the evil that would befall him if he 
did not return immediately after the close of the 

" I hurried off," said Josiah, "pleased with the 
opportunity of hearing a preaching, but without 


any definite expectations of benefit or of the 
amusement in which I most delighted ; for up to 
this time, and I was then near eighteen years old, 
I had never heard a sermon, nor any discourse or 
conversation whatever upon religious topics, except 
what I had heard from my mother, who carefully 
taught me the responsibility of all to a Supreme 
Being. When I arrived at the place of meeting, 
the services were so far advanced that the speaker 
was just beginning his discourse from the text, 
Hebrews ii. 9: " That He, by the grace of God, 
should taste death for every man." This was the 
first text of the Bible I had ever listened to, know- 
ing it to be such. I have never forgotten it, and 
scarcely a day has passed since in which I have 
not recalled it, and the sermon that was preached 
from it. 

11 Who can describe my feelings, and the strange 
influence that came upon and overwhelmed me, as 
I listened to those wondrous words ? I was at 
once attracted by the manner and earnestness of 
the preacher, the loving expression of his coun- 
tenance, and the light that seemed to gleam from 
his eyes. And then I became entranced, my whole 
soul absorbed in the theme upon which he dwelt. 
He spoke of the Divine character of Jesus Christ, 
His tender love for mankind, His forgiving spirit, 
His compassion for the outcast and despised and 


the guilty, His crucifixion and His glorious resur- 
rection and ascension ; and some of these he 
dwelt upon with great power -.—great especially to 
me, who then heard of these things for the first 
time in my life. Again and again did the preacher 
reiterate the words, 'for every man :' — these glad 
tidings, this great salvation, were not for the benefit 
of a select few only. They were for the slave as 
well as the master, the poor as well as the rich, 
the distressed, the heavy laden, the captive. They 
were for me — I felt they were for me — among the 
rest, a poor, despised, abused creature, deemed of 
others fit for nothing but unrequited toil, and 
mental and bodily degradation. O, the blessedness 
and sweetness of the feeling that then came over 
me ! I was loved ! I could have died that 
moment with joy for the compassionate Saviour 
about whom I was hearing. •' He loves me. He 
looks down from heaven in compassion and for- 
giveness on me, a great sinner. He died to save 
my soul. He'll welcome me to the skies,' I kept 
repeating to myself. I was transported with a de- 
licious joy I had never felt before. I seemed to 
see a glorious Being in a cloud of splendour smiling 
down from on high. In sharp contrast with the 
experience of the contempt and brutality of my 
earthly master, I seemed to bask in the sunshine 
of the benignity of this glorious Being! He'll be 

D 2 


my dear refuge— He'll wipe away the tears from. 
my eyes ! Now I can bear all things. Nothing 
will seem hard after this ! I felt sorry that my 
master, Riley, did not know this loving Saviour ; 
sorry that he should live such a coarse, wicked, 
cruel life. Swallowed up in the beauty of the 
Divine love, I could love my enemies, and prayed 
for them that did despitefully use and entreat me. 

" Revolving the things which I had heard in my 
mind, and excited as I had never been in my life 
before, I turned aside from the road on my way 
home into the woods, and spent some time there in 
prayer. I prayed as I had never prayed in all my 
life, pouring out my whole soul to God. I cried 
unto Him for light and aid with an earnestness 
which, however unenlightened, was sincere and 
heartfelt ; and I have no doubt it was acceptable to 
Him who heareth prayer. From this day, so 
memorable, so important to me — the day of my 
conversion — I date my awakening to a new life, a 
consciousness of power and of a destiny superior 
to anything I had before conceived of. I began 
now to use every means and opportunity of inquiry 
into religious matters. Religion became to me, 
indeed, the great business and concern of my life. 
So deep was my conviction of its superior im- 
portance to everything else; so clear my perception 
of my own faults, and of the darkness and sin that 





surrounded me, that I could not help talking much 
on these subjects with those about me; and all 
took notice of the great change that had come over 
me, making strangely thoughtful and serious the 
ever-frolicsome and mischief-loving lad they had 
always known me to be from a child. " 

He now began to pray with his fellow- slaves, and 
converse with them about subjects concerning 
which ^most of them were shut up in the grossest 
darkness ; and, as in many other instances, this led 
him on by degrees to speak to them collectively, and 
address to them an occasional exhortation. As a 
fire in his bones was the love of God so unexpect- 
edly shed abroad in his heart, and he felt con- 
strained by a power within him, which he was very 
far from understanding himself, to impart to the 
suffering and degraded hordes with whom he was 
associated those little glimmerings of light which 
had reached his own eye. And, O ! how greatly 
was the heart of that godly mother rejoiced by 
these new developments in Josiah ! For years 
she had as it were travailed in birth again for the 
soul of this only child which the cruelty of men had 
left her. Profoundly ignorant of all other know- 
ledge, she had been made wise unto salvation, and 
enjoyed in her own soul the peace and love of God ; 
she knew how to value the soul of her boy, and 
longed and laboured, under all the disadvantages 


of her condition as an over-wrought slave, to draw 
him to Christ. Day and night she had borne him 
up before God in prayer. To the best of her 
knowledge and ability she had endeavoured, with 
loving assiduity, to instil into that bright and active 
mind the great principles of religious truth. And 
her labour had not been lost. With many tears she 
had dropped the good seed into the young heart, 
and now the Almighty and all-pervading energy of 
God had caused it to germinate and give the 
promise of an abundant harvest. During many 
years of anxious solicitude, which can be felt only 
by a godly mother for an only child, like the prophet 
on Carmel, she had laid the fuel in faith that the fire 
from above would kindle it ; and now the spark from 
heaven, of which M'Kenny was the chosen medium, 
had fallen. The precious soul of her child, to her 
own great happiness, was all aglow with the fire of 
a new and celestial life. Let mothers, more highly 
favoured with advantages that never came to the 
lot of this poor enslaved daughter of Africa, pursue 
the course that her hallowed instincts of affection 
prompted her to follow concerning the soul of her 
child, and they will reap the same reward. There 
is a mighty power in the prayers that are sent to the 
skies winged with a devoted mother's faith and love. 

Chapter v. 


aosiAH was endowed with 
more than an ordinary 
degree of energy. Quick- 
active, clever, and 
fruitful in resources, and 
always ambitious to excel in 
whatever he put his hand to, 
he became very valuable to his 
master. He watched over that 
master's interests with great 
fidelity, and exposed the 
knavery of the overseers, who plundered their em- 
ployer whenever they found the opportunity. 
While scafcely out of his boyhood, he had acquired 
great influence over his fellow-slaves; and being 
appointed superintendent of the farm, he not only 
kept the people in better and more cheerful order 
than they had ever been before, but he obtained 
from them more willing labour, by exercising only 
the law of kindness, and doubled the crops, to the 


great profit of his owner. The pride and ambition 
that were natural to him had made him strive to be 
proficient in every department of farm work. 

Under a different system this would have brought 
to him additional emolument and increased worldly 
comfort. But was not Josiah a slave; body and 
soul, with all his energies, the absolute property of 
his master ? To him, as he was circumstanced, it 
brought only an increase of burdens and responsi- 
bilities. His master was too much embruted by 
his association with slavery, and the exercise of 
irresponsible power over the unfortunate ones under 
his control, to reward a faithful servant with kind- 
ness or decent treatment. Josiah had to care for 
all the crops of wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, corn, 
tobacco, &c, which the master left entirely to him; 
and he was often compelled at midnight to start 
with the waggon for a distant market, and drive on 
through mud and rain till morning, sell the produce, 
and return home hungry and weary, to receive as 
his reward only oaths and curses and threatenings 
for not obtaining higher prices. Riley was like 
most slaveholders of his class, a fearful blasphemer, 
and seldom opened his lips without giving utterance 
to profane and violent language. 

He was also a drunken profligate, indulging in 
vile habits which were common enough among 
the dissipated planters of the neighbourhood. 


Saturday and Sunday were their usual holidays ; 
and it was their practice to assemble on these days. 
at some low tavern, and devote themselves ta 
gambling, running horses, fighting game-cocks, and 
discussing politics ; indulging in large libations of 
whiskey and brandy. Well aware that they would 
be in such a condition as not to be able to find their 
way home at night, each one would order his 
groom, or body-servant, to come after him, to take 
care of him, and see him safe home. Josiah was 
chosen by his master to perform this office ; and 
many a time he has walked by Riley's horse, hold- 
ing him in the saddle, which he was too drunk ta 
keep without help, plodding, at or after the midnight 
hour, through deep darkness and mud some miles 
from the tavern to the farm. These drunken 
carousals not unfrequently terminated in brawls 
and quarrels of the most violent description: glasses 
and chairs would be thrown, dirks and knives drawn, 
and pistols fired ] some of the ruffianly brawlers 
sometimes carrying home with them serious 
wounds ; and occasionally a life would be sacrificed 
before the uproar ceased. On such occasions, when 
the state of things became dangerous, the slave 
servants of the rioters were accustomed to rush in 
and extricate their masters from the fight, and take 
them home. This was often a perilous service to 
perform ; not only as the slaves were liable to be 


injured by the weapons called into use, but they 
•occasionally turned against themselves the violence 
■of the drunken masters, whom, for their own safety, 
they sought to lead or control, or that of the 
exasperated ruffians to whom they might be 
opposed. "To tell the truth," says Josiah, "this 
was a part of my business, for which I felt no 
reluctance. I was young, remarkably athletic and 
■self- relying; and in such affrays, whenever I had to 
mingle with them, I carried it with a high hand. 
I would elbow my way among the whites, whom it 
would have been almost death for me to strike, 
seize my master, and drag him out, mount him on 
his horse, or crowd him into his buggy, with as 
much ease as I would handle a bag of corn." 

In one of these brutal outbursts, Josiah's master 
became involved in a violent quarrel with a man 
named Bryce Lytton, who was overseer to his 
brother, another Riley, who owned a farm in the 
same neighbourhood. This Lytton was a man of 
ruffianly character and ferocious habits. How the 
quarrel originated, or who was right or wrong, 
Josiah knew not ; but all the rest of the drunken 
set sided with Lytton, and there was a general row. 
4i I was sitting on the steps," said Josiah, " in front 
of the tavern, when I heard the scuffle, and rushed 
in to look after my charge. My master was a 
noted bruiser, and in such a fight could generally 


hold his own, and clear a handsome space aroundi 
him ; but now he was cornered, and a dozen were 
striking at him with fists, crockery, chairs, and any- 
thing that came handy. The moment he saw me 
he hallooed, * That's it, Sie, pitch in ! show me 
fair play ! ' It was a rough business, and I went: 
in roughly, shoving and tripping, and doing my 
best to get to the rescue of Riley. With much 
trouble, and after getting many a bruise on my 
head and shoulders, I at length got him out of the 
room, and took him safe home. He was crazy with 
drink and rage, and struggled hard with me to get 
back and renew the fight. But I managed to lift 
him into his waggon, jump in, and drive off. 

" By ill luck, during the scuffle, Bryce Lytton 
got a severe fall. Whether it was the whiskey or 
a chance shove from me that caused his fall, I can- 
not say. He, however, attributed it to me, and 
treasured up his vengeance for the first favourable 
opportunity. When sought, such an opportunity is. 
readily found. 

* { About a week afterwards, I was sent by my master 
to a place a few miles distant, on horseback, with, 
some letters. I took a short cut through a lane, 
separated by gates from the high road, and enclosed, 
by a fence on either side. This lane passed through 
part of the farm belonging to my master's brother, 
and Lytton was in an adjacent field with three 


Negroes when I was passing by. On my return, 
half-an-hour afterwards, the overseer was sitting on 
the fence : but I could see nothing of the Negroes. 
I rode on quite unsuspicious of any trouble : but 
as I rode up he jumped off the fence, and at the • 
same moment two of the Negroes sprang from 
.under the bushes, where they had been concealed, 
and stood with him in front of me, while the other 
sprang over the fence just behind me. I was thus 
enclosed between what I could no longer doubt 
were hostile forces. Lytton seized the bridle, and 
ordered me to alight, in no gentle terms, oaths and 
curses flowing from his lips, as was usual with him, 
with great volubility. I asked what I was to alight 
for. * To take such a flogging as you never had in 
your life, you black scoundrel, ' using a variety of 
expletives which I care not to repeat. ' But what 
am I to be flogged for, Mr. Lytton ?' I asked. ' Not 
a word,' said he, ' but light at once, and take off your 
jacket.' I saw there was nothing else to be done, 
and slipped off the horse on the opposite side from 
him. * Now take off your shirt,' cried he ; and as 
I demurred at this, he lifted a stick he had in his 
hand to strike me, but so suddenly and violently 
that he frightened the horse, which broke away 
from him, and galloped off in the direction of his 
stable. I was thus left without means of escape 
to sustain the attack of four men as well as I might. 


In avoiding Mr. Lytton's blow, I had accidentally 
got into a corner of the snake fence, where I could 
not be approached except in front. The overseer 
called upon the Negroes to seize me ; but they, 
knowing something of my muscular power, were 
slow to obey. At length they did their best, and 
as they brought themselves within my reach, I 
knocked them all down in succession, and there 
they lay sprawling on the ground, in no hurry to 
get up and renew the attack. One of them trying 
to trip up my feet when he was down, I gave him 
a kick with my heavy shoe, which knocked out 
several of his teeth, and sent him howling away. 

" Meanwhile the overseer was playing away 
upon my head with a stick ; not heavy enough, in- 
deed, to knock me down, but drawing blood freely ; 
shouting all the while, c Won't you give up ? 
Won't you give up, you black ■ ? ' Exas- 
perated at my defence, he suddenly seized upon 
one of the heavy fence rails, and rushed at me, to 
bring the contest to a sudden close. The ponder- 
ous blow fell. I lifted my arm to ward it off: the 
bone cracked like a pipe-stem, and I fell headlong 
to the ground. Repeated blows then rained upon 
me till both my shoulder blades were broken, and 
the blood gushed copiously from my mouth. In 
vain the Negroes endeavoured to interpose. 
* Didn't you see the nigger strike me ? ' This 


was false ; for the lying coward had avoided close 
quarters, and kept carefully beyond my reach, 
fighting with his stick alone. His vengeance 
satisfied, at length he desisted, telling me to leara 
what it was to strike a white man." 

" Meanwhile an alarm had been given at the 
house by the return of the horse without a rider,, 
and my master started off with a small party in 
search of me. When he first saw me he was swear- 
ing with rage. ' You've been fighting, you — 
nigger.' I told him Bryce Lytton had been beat- 
ing me, because I shoved him the other night at 
the tavern when there was a row. Seeing how 
much I was injured, he became more fearfully en- 
raged ; and after having me carried home, for I 
was unable to move, he mounted his horse, and 
rode over to Montgomery Court House, to enter a 
complaint. But little came of it. Lytton swore 
that I was insolent, jumped off my horse, made at 
him, and would have killed him but for the help of 
his Negroes. Of course no Negro's testimony 
could be admitted against a white man, and he was 
acquitted. My master was obliged to pay all the 
costs of court ; and although he had the satisfaction 
of denouncing Lytton as a liar and a scoundrel, 
and giving him a tremendous bruising that sent 
him to his bed for several days, yet even this was 
rendered the less gratifying by what followed,, 


which was a suit for damages, and a heavy fine 
for the assault." 

By this brutal treatment poor Josiah was 
maimed and disabled for life. When I was first 
introduced to him, I observed that he could not 
lift his hand to his head ; and that when he had to 
put on or take off his hat he brought his head 
down to his hand. Both his arms appeared 
to be shorter than they should have been in pro- 
portion to his size, and he was stiff and awkward 
in the use of them. And this was the cause. Be- 
sides the broken arm, and the wounds on his head 
and other parts of his person, both his shoulder 
blades were broken, and he could hear and feel the 
shattered bones grating against each other at every 
breath he drew. His sufferings, as he described 
them, were intense. No physician or surgeon 
was called in to dress his wounds or set the broken 
bones. It was not the practice on Riley's planta- 
tion to spend money upon doctors, and none was 
ever called in on any occasion whatever. "A 
nigger will get well any way," was a doctrine re- 
cognised and acted upon there. " And facts seemed 
to justify it," observed Josiah. " The robust, phy- 
sical health produced by a life of out-door labour 
made our wounds heal up with as little inflamma- 
tion as they do in the case of cattle." He was at- 
tended by his master's sister, Miss Patty, as she 



was called upon the farm, who was looked upon as 
the .ZEsculapius of the plantation. She was a power- 
ful, big-boned woman, of Amazonian proportions 
and strength, unencumbered by anything like diffi- 
dence, and ready, whenever occasion presented, to 
wrench out a tooth, set and splinter a broken bone, 
or take a rifle, as she had been known to do, and 
shoot a furious ox that the Negroes were in vain 
attempting to butcher. She set herself to repair, 
as well as she knew how, the injuries that Josiah 
had received. " But alas !" said the sufferer, " it 
was but cobbler's work. From that day to this I 
have been unable to raise my hands as high as my 
head. It was five months before I could work at 
all : and the first time I held the plough, a hard 
knock of the coulter against a stone shattered my 
shoulder-blades again, and gave me even greater 
agony than at first. And so I have gone through 
life maimed and mutilated. Practice enabled me 
in time to perform the farm labours with consider- 
able efficiency ; but the free, vigorous play of 
muscle and arm was gone for ever." 

Crippled as he was, Josiah was able to save his 

master the expenditure of a considerable salary to 

a white overseer. He was made the superinten- 

4ent of the estate, and gradually came to have the 

.disposal of everything raised on the farm. The 

.wheat, oats, hay, fruit, butter, &c, were confided to 


him, and he obtained better prices for them than 
the master could do himself, or any one else was 
likely to do for him. " I will not deny," he said, 
" that I used his property more freely than he would 
have done in supplying his slaves with proper 
food ; but in this I did him no wrong, for it was un- 
equivocally for his own benefit, as the people did 
better and more cheerful work, and produced more 
abundant crops. I accounted, with the strictest 
honesty, for every dollar I received in the sale of 
the property entrusted to me." 

e 2 

Chapter vi. 


hen he was about 
^twenty-two years of 
age, Josiah took to him- 
self a wife. The object 
of his choice was a girl 
who had been well brought up 
in a neighbouring family, who 
bore the reputation of beings 
pious, and kind to their slaves* 
He first met her at some of the 
religious meetings held in the neighbourhood, and 
a mutual attachment sprang up between them ;. 
and with the consent of all parties she became his 
wife. " She was the mother of my twelve chil- 
dren," he said to me, " eight of whom still survive,, 
and promise to be the comfort of my declining 

Things went on with little change for several 
years, when his master, at the age of forty-five,. 


married a girl of eighteen, who had some little 
property. She was remarkable for, and practised, 
a degree of economy in the household which 
brought no addition to the comfort of the family. 
She had a younger brother, named Francis, to 
whom Riley was appointed guardian. " The youth 
used to complain," Josiah remarked, " not without 
reason, I am confident, of the meanness of the 
provision made for the household ; and he would 
often come to me, with tears in his eyes, to tell me 
he could not get enough to eat. I made him my 
friend by sympathizing with his grief and satisfying 
his appetite, sharing with him the food I took care 
to provide for my own family." 

After a while the dissipation of Josiah's master 
became more than a match for his wife's domestic 
saving, and he became involved in difficulty and 
pecuniary embarrassment. This was enhanced 
by a lawsuit with a brother-in-law, who charged 
him with dishonesty in the management of property 
confided to him in trust. The litigation was pro- 
tracted, and it brought him to ruin. 

Harsh and tyrannical as he had often been, 
Josiah pitied him in his distress. At times he was 
dreadfully dejected and cast down ; at others crazy 
with drink and rage, swearing and storming at all 
about him. " Day after day," said his faithful 
.slave, " he would ride over to Montgomery Court 


House, to look after this troublesome business, and 
every day his affairs became more desperate. He 
would come into my cabin, to tell me how the suit 
was progressing; but spent the time chieflyin lament- 
ing his misfortunes, 5 and cursing his brother-in-law. 
I tried to comfort him as well as I could. He had 
confidence in my fidelity and judgment ; and 
partly through a sort of pride or self-complacency 
I felt in being thus appealed to, but more through 
the spirit of love I had learned to admire and imi- 
tate in the Lord Jesus Christ, I entered with great 
interest into all his perplexities. The poor, drink- 
ing, furious, moaning creature was utterly incapa- 
ble of managing his affairs. Shiftlessness, licen* 
tiousness, and drink, had complicated them quite 
as much as actual dishonesty.'' 

At length the crisis came. " One night, in the 
month of January, long after I had fallen asleep, 
overcome with the fatigues of the day, he came 
into my cabin and roused me up. I thought it 
strange : but for a time he said nothing, and sat 
moodily warming himself by the fire. Then he 
began to groan and wring his hands. ' Sick, 
massa ? - said I. He made no reply ; but kept on 
moaning. * Can't I help you any way, massa ? ' I 
spoke tenderly ; for my heart was full of compas- 
sion at his wretched appearance. At last, collect- 
ing himself, he cried, * 0, Sie ! I'm ruined, ruined, 


ruined ! ' e How so, massa ? \ i They've got judg- 
ment against me; and in less that two weeks 
every nigger I've got will be put up and sold.' Then 
he burst into a storm of curses at his brother-in- 

" I sat silent, powerless to utter a word. Not only 
did I pity him, but I was filled with terror at the 
anticipation of the sad fate which I perceived was 
now hanging over my own family, and the terrible 
separation with which we were threatened. So it 
is. The calamity that falls upon the master often 
comes with tenfold crushing weight upon his 
unfortunate slaves. 

" ' And now, Sie,' continued Riley, < there's only 
one way I can save anything. You can do it : won't 
you, won't you ? • In his great distress he rose, 
and actually threw his arms around me. Misery 
had levelled all distinctions. ' If I can do it, Massa, 
I will. What is it ? ' Without replying he went 
on, i Won't you, won't you ? I raised you, Sie ; I 
made you overseer ; I know I've often abused you, 
Sie, but I didn't mean it.' Still he avoided telling 
me what he wanted. t Promise me you'll do it, 
boy ! ' He seemed resolutely bent on having my 
promise first, well knowing from past experience 
that what I agreed to do I should spare no pains 
or labour to accomplish. Solicited in this way, so 
urgently, and with tears, by the man whom I had 


so zealously served for many years, and who now 
seemed absolutely dependent upon his slave — im- 
pelled, too, by the fear which he skilfully awakened 
that the sheriff would seize every one who belonged 
to him, and that all would be separated, or perhaps 
sold to go to Georgia or Louisiana, — a fate greatly 
dreaded by slaves in the border states, — I consented, 
and promised to do all I could' to save him from 
the fate impending over him. 

" At last the proposition came. < I want you to 
run away, Sie, to my brother Amos, in Kentucky, 
and take all the servants along with you.' I could 
not have been more startled had he asked me to go 
to the moon. ' Kentucky, Massa, Kentucky ? I don't 
know the way ! ' * O, it's easy enough for a smart 
fellow like you to find it. I'll give you a pass, 
and tell you just what to do.' Perceiving that I 
hesitated, he endeavoured to frighten me by 
again referring to the terrors of being sold to 

"For two or three hours he continued to urge 
me to the undertaking, appealing now to my sym- 
pathy and compassion, then to my pride, and again 
to my fears. At last, appalling as it seemed to me, 
I yielded, and told him I would do my best. 
There were eighteen Negroes, besides my wife, two 
children, and myself, to transport nearly a thou- 
sand miles, through a country about which I knew 


nothing, and in mid-winter; for it was the month 
of February, 1825. My master proposed to follow 
me in a few months, and establish himself in Ken- 

Josiah set himself earnestly about the needful 
preparations. They were few, and easily made. 
Fortunately for the success of the questionable 
undertaking, the Negroes of the plantation fell 
readily into the scheme. Devotedly attached to 
him who was to be their leader and guide, because 
of the many alleviations he had afforded to their 
miserable condition, the kindly consideration he 
had always shown to them, and the comforts he 
had procured them, they readily submitted them- 
selves to his authority. Besides, the dread of 
being sold away down South, should they remain 
on the old estate, united them as one man, and kept 
them patient and alert. 

A one-horse waggon was prepared, well stocked 
with meal and bacon for the support of the party, 
and oats for the use of the horse. The second 
night after the scheme was broached they were on 
their way. They started about eleven o'clock, and 
made no halt until noon on the following day ; for 
all were anxious to put as great a distance between 
themselves and the evils that threatened them as 
possible. The men trudged on foot, the women 
and children rode in the waggon, and walked alter- 


nately, as they were able. On they went through 
Alexandria, Culpepper, Fanquier, Harper's Ferry, 
and Cumberland, most of them places rendered 
familiar by the events of the late civil war, until 
they arrived at Wheeling. At the taverns along the 
road they found places prepared for the use of the. 
droves of Negroes that were continually passing 
along, under the system of the internal slave trade. 
There they lodged, paying for the accommodation ? 
this being their only expense, as they carried their 
food with them. When questions were put to them,, 
as was not unfrequently the case, Josiah exhibited 
the " pass " which his master had given him, autho- 
rizing him to conduct his Negroes to Kentucky : 
his vanity being occasionally gratified when the 
encomium of " smart nigger" was applied to him. 
At the places where they stopped to rest for the 
night they often met with Negro drivers, and their 
gangs of slaves, almost uniformly chained to pre- 
vent their running away. " Whose niggers are 
these ? " was an inquiry often propounded to 
Josiah. On being informed, the next inquiry would 
be, " Where are they going?" "To Kentucky." 
" Who drives them ? " " Well, I have charge of 
them," was Josiah's reply. "What a smart 
nigger ! " was the usual exclamation, accompanied 
with an oath. " Will your master sell you ? Come 
in, and stop with us." In this way he was often 


invited to pass the evening with them inside ;. 
their Negroes, meanwhile, lying chained in the: 
pen, while Josiah's party were scattered around at 

Arrived at Wheeling, on the Ohio River, accord- 
ing to the instructions given to him, Josiah sold, 
the horse and waggon, and purchased a large boat,, 
called in that region a yawl, in which he embarked 
the whole party, and floated down the river. This. 
mode of locomotion was much more agreeable than 
tramping along, foot- sore, day after day, at the rate, 
they had been limited to ever since leaving home. 
Very little labour at the oars was necessary, for 
jthe current floated them steadily along, and they 
had ample leisure to rest and recruit their strength- 

A great trouble now arose, altogether new and 
unexpected to Josiah. They were passing along 
the shore of. the State of Ohio, one of the north- 
ern free states, and were repeatedly told by persons, 
who entered into conversation with them that they 
were no longer slaves, but free men, if they chose 
to be so. At Cincinnati, especially, as soon as, 
they arrived there, crowds of coloured people 
gathered about them, and almost insisted on the 
party remaining with them ; telling them they were 
fools to think of going on, and surrendering them- 
selves to a new owner; that now they could be 
their own masters, and easily put themselves out 


of reach of pursuit. " It was a great tempta- 
tion, ,J said Josiah. "I saw the people under me 
were getting much excited, and signs of insub- 
ordination began to manifest themselves. I began, 
too, to feel my own resolution giving way. Free- 
dom had ever been an object of my ambition, 
though no other means of obtaining it but purchas- 
ing myself had occurred to me. I had never 
dreamed of running away. I had a sentiment of 
honour on the subject. The duties of the slave to 
his master, as appointed over him in the Lord, I 
had always heard urged by ministers and religious 
men ; it seemed to me like outright stealing to 
run away. And now I thought the devil was get- 
ting the upper hand of me. The idea was very 
entrancing that the coast was clear for a run for 
freedom ; that I might liberate my companions, 
carry off my wife and children, and some day pos- 
sess a house and land, and be no longer despised 
and abused as a slave. Still my notions of right 
were against it. I had promised my master 
to take his property to Kentucky, and commit it 
to the care of his brother Amos ; and how 
could I break my word ? Pride, too, came in to 
confirm me in my resolution to be faithful to my 
master's interests. I had undertaken what appeared 
to me to be a great thing. My vanity had been 
ilattered all along the road by hearing myself 


praised. I thought it would be a feather in my 
cap to carry through this expedition successfully ; 
and I had often painted the scene, in my imagina- 
tion, of the final surrender of my charge to Master 
Amos, and the immense admiration and respect 
with which he would regard me. 

" Under these impressions, and seeing that the 
allurements of the crowd were producing a mani- 
fest effect on my charge, I sternly assumed the 
captain, and ordered the boat to be pushed off into* 
the stream. A shower of execrations at my folly 
followed me from the shore ; but the Negroes under 
me, accustomed to obey, and, alas ! too degraded 
and ignorant of the advantages of liberty to under- 
stand what they were forfeiting, offered no resist- 
ance to my command. 

" Often since that day has my soul been pierced 
with bitter anguish at the thought of having been 
thus instrumental in consigningto the infernal bond- 
age of slavery so many of my fellow beings. I 
have wrestled in prayer with God for forgiveness of 
this sin. Having experienced myself the sweet- 
ness of liberty, and knowing too well the after 
misery of numbers of them, my infatuation has 
seemed to me almost unpardonable. But I console 
myself with the thought that I acted according to 
my best light, though the light that was in me 
was darkness. Those were my days of ignorance. 


I knew not the glory of free manhood. I was 
ignorant of the fact that the title of the slave- 
holder is only robbery and outrage." 

Arrived at the end of the journey, Josiah deli- 
vered up his charge to the brother of his owner, 
Amos Riley, who was the possessor of a large 
plantation on Big Blackford's Creek, about five 
miles south of the Ohio River. This was wrought 
by the labour of between eighty and one hundred 
slaves. The recommendation w r hich he carried 
with him from his old master for ability and 
honesty, and the perseverance, fidelity, and tact 
which he had shown in bringing his fellow- slaves 
from Maryland, procured for him the general 
management of the plantation. His situation was 
here in some respects an improvement upon that he 
had left. The farm was larger and more fertile, 
and there was a greater abundance of food; which 
was one of the principal elements of comfort in the 
life of a slave, debarred as he was by his lowly con- 
dition from almost all the enjoyments of life, and 
so nearly reduced to the level of the brutes. 
" Sufficiency of food," Josiah remarked, " is a pretty 
important item in any man's account of life ; but 
is tenfold more so in that of the slave, whose appe- 
tite is always stimulated by as much labour as he 
can perform, and whose mind is little occupied by 
thought on subjects of deeper interest." 

Chapter vii, 


osiah remained three 
years on Master Amos's 
plantation, and during 
this time his post of 
superintendent gave 
him some advantages, 
of which he was not slow to avail 
himself, particularly with regard 
to religion ; which, since he had 
first heard of Christ and Chris- 
tianity, had occupied his mind continually. We 
have seen how he was brought under Gospel influ- 
ences, and became a partaker of the spiritual life 
which produces so wonderful a transformation of the 
inner man. In Kentucky he found more numer- 
ous opportunities of religious instruction than he 
had before ; attending, whenever he was able, on 
the preaching- of the white ministers as well as the 
blacks. He also embraced every opportunity of 
visiting the camp-meetings which were held from 
time to time in the neighbourhood, pondering 


carefully and prayerfully what he heard, studying 
his own heart, and carefully observing the develop- 
ments of character in those around him. Thus, 
without being able to read the Word of God for 
himself, being shrewd, observant, and thoughtful, he 
acquired a considerable acquaintance with religious 
truth, and became well grounded in his knowledge 
of the great plan of redemption, and of salvation 
by faith in Christ Jesus, as held and taught by the 
Methodists. Nor was his by any means a solitary 
instance. Cut off as they were from ordinary ad- 
vantages of instruction by oppressive laws that 
punished as a crime the teaching of the art of 
reading to a slave, many of them, by hearing and 
the use of memory, and the awakening of the 
power and habit of thought within them, obtained 
a knowledge of religion and the Bible that was 
truly surprising. 

Anxious to learn, and eagerly availing himself of 
all opportunities of listening to expositions of the 
truth, the nobler faculties of Josiah's nature were 
aroused and brought into active exercise. He not 
only thought much, but yearned in pity over the 
blindness and ignorance in which he saw his fellow 
slaves around him deeply buried, longing to shed 
upon their minds the light which had come into 
and filled his own. It was like fire in his bones. 
Gradually he became accustomed to take part im 


the prayer-meetings that he attended, and then to 
address to those around him the word of exhortation, 
until he learned by practice how best to arouse and 
stir up the callous and indifferent to a concern 
about their souls. God owned his labours, and 
many poor sinners through his instrumentality were 
brought to God ; and he was abundantly encou- 
raged to improve himself by all means within his 
reach, and " devote himself," as he expressed it, 
" to the cultivation of those harvests which ripen 
only in eternity." After being three years thus 
employed in the improvement and exercise of such 
gifts as were granted unto him, he was admitted as 
a preacher by a quarterly conference of the Metho- 
dist Episcopal Church. 

Josiah's old master, Riley, could not prevail upon 
his wife to leave her friends in Maryland, and go, 
as he wished, to settle in Kentucky. Consequently, 
in the spring of 1828, he sent out an agent to sell 
all his slaves excepting only Josiah and his family, 
and to carry back to him the proceeds of the sale. 
Now it was that Josiah discovered the error of 
which he had been guilty, in preventing the 
escape from slavery of so many of his fellow-bonds- 
men, when they might have so easily stepped into 
liberty by simply getting out of the boat, and 
mingling with the crowd who were earnestly per- 
suading them to cast off their bonds. Now he was 



to behold another of those heart-rending scenes 
which had been so deeply impressed upon his soul 
when his mother was made a widow, while still a 
wife, and bereft of all her children except himself, 
by the iron selfishness generated under the hate- 
ful " institution'* that gave man a right of property 
in his fellow man. Now, again, he was to see 
husbands and wives, parents and children, severed 
for ever, and all those affections, which are as 
strong in the African as in the European, cruelly 
disregarded and ruthlessly trampled under foot- 
True, he and his family were to be exempted from 
a personal share in the calamity, as they were not 
to be sold. But he was overwhelmed with grief, 
and self-condemnation, and remorse, when heremem- 
bered that, but for his disregard of his own rights 
and the rights of his fellow slaves, this calamity 
could not have happened ; and, instead of being 
consigned to the wrongs and cruel oppressions of 
the South, every one of these husbands and wives, 
and parents and children, might have been happy 
and comfortable and prosperous in the land of the 

" As I surveyed the scene/' he said, " and lis- 
tened to the groans and outcries of my afflicted 
companions, the torments of hell seized upon me. 
My eyes were opened, and the guilty madness of 
my conduct in preventing them from availing them- 


selves of the opportunity for acquiring freedom, 
which offered itself at Cincinnati, overwhelmed 
me. This, then, was the reward and end of all 
my faithfulness to my master. I had thought only 
of him and his interests, not of them or their wel- 
fare. ! what would I not have given to have 
had the chance offered once more ! And now 
through me were they doomed to wear out life 
miserably in the hot and pestilential climate of the 
far South. Death would have been welcome to 
me in my agony. From that hour, as I had never 
done before, I saw through, hated, and cursed, the 
whole system of slavery. I awoke as from a 
dream, and one absorbing purpose now occupied 
my soul — freedom, self-assertion, deliverance from 
the cruel caprices and fortunes of dissolute tyrants. 
Once to get away, with my wife and children, to 
some spot where I could feel that they were indeed 
mine — where no grasping master could stand be- 
tween me and them, an arbiter of their destiny — 
was a heaven yearned after with insatiable longing. 
For this I prayed with all the fervency of which I 
was capable : and for this I stood ready to toil and 
to dissemble, to plot like a fox, or to fight like a 
tiger. All the nobler instincts of my soul, and all 
the ferocious passions of my animal nature, were 
aroused and quickened into vigorous action as they 
had never been before/' 

F 2 


It was no real kindness to Josiah that prompted 
his old master, Riley, to exempt him from the sale 
with his family; but a desire, on his part, to have 
them back to Maryland, to be employed in his own 
service. His best farms had been taken away 
from him, and only a few tracts of poor land 
remained. After his slaves had been run off to 
Kentucky, under Josiah's care, he cultivated these 
with the labour of hired Negroes, and every month 
grew poorer and more desperate. He now wrote 
to his brother Amos, to give Josiah a pass, and let 
him travel back. But this Amos was reluctant to 
do, as Josiah saved him the expense of employing 
a white overseer; and he knew, moreover, that no 
legal measures could be taken to force him to 
comply. Josiah was aware of all this, but dared 
not reem anxious to return, for fear of exciting 

During the summer of 1828, a Methodist preacher, 
a white man of excellent character and abilities, 
visited the neighbourhood, and Josiah formed an 
acquaintance with him. " This gentleman," said 
Josiah, " soon became interested in me. Observing 
how my arms were crippled, and shorter than they 
should naturally have been, he inquired kindly into 
the cause, which I explained to him. This appeared 
to increase his regard for me, and he visited and 
conversed with me frequently. 


"One day he entered into conversation with me, 
In a confidential way, about my position and 
prospects. ' You ought to be free,' he said, * for 
you have good capabilities, which ought not to be 
confined to the limited and comparatively useless 
sphere of a slave. Though I must not be known 
to have spoken with you on this subject, yet if you 
will obtain Mr. Amos' consent to go and see your 
old master in Maryland, I will try and put you in a 
way by which I think you may succeed in buying 

More than once they had the same subject up, 
and the advice was repeated. It was in harmony 
with all the aspirations and wishes that Josiah 
cherished, flattering to the self esteem in which he 
was by no means deficient, and it stimulated his 
impatience to bring matters to an issue. He 
resolved therefore to make the attempt to obtain 
the necessary leave. The autumn work was over ; 
he could be spared from the fields now with less 
inconvenience than at any other part of the year; 
and a better chance could not offer itself. Still he 
dreaded to make the proposal. So much seemed 
to hang upon it ; such fond hopes were bound up 
with it, that he trembled for the result. At length 
he wrought himself up, after much prayer, to the 

"I opened the subject," said he, "one Sunday 


morning, while shaving Mr. Amos, and adroitly 
managed, by bringing the shaving brush close into 
his mouth whenever he appeared disposed to 
interrupt me, to get a good say first, and compel 
him to think of my request in silence. Of course, I 
made no allusion to the plan I was meditating of 
buying myself. Any mention of that would have 
insured a refusal. I urged my request on the sole 
ground of a desire to see my master. To my 
surprise and joy, he made little objection. He said 
I had been faithful to him, and gained his regard. 
I had earned such an indulgence, and long before 
spring I could be back again." 

The certificate given him by Mr. Amos allowed 
him to pass and repass between Kentucky and 
Maryland as " the servant of Amos Riley." 
Furnished with this, and also with a letter from 
his preacher friend to a brother Minister in 
Cincinnati, he started about the middle of Sep- 
tember for the East. 

A new era now opened upon our anxious friend. 
The letter he carried with him to Cincinnati pro- 
cured for him many friends, who became interested 
in him, and entered heartily into his plans, con- 
cerning which no necessity for silence now existed. 
They procured for him an opportunity to preach in 
several of the pulpits of the city, where he related 
the leading events of his history, and made his 


appeal to a sympathizing people, with that 
eloquence which often breaks forth from a soul all 
alive, and fanned into a glow by an inspiring project. 
Contact with those who were free themselves, and 
a sort of proud consciousness, as he described it, 
that his destiny was now in a great measure in his 
own hands, aroused within him a power he had 
never possessed before, and which produced a con- 
siderable effect upon many who listened to him. 
After four days spent in that Queen City of the 
West, he left it with a hundred and sixty dollars in 
his pocket, which kind friends had contributed 
towards enabling him to buy his freedom. 

Buoyant with hope, and jubilant with thanks- 
giving, Josiah next directed his steps to Chillicotha, 
in company with his preacher adviser, who had 
joined him at Cincinnati. At this place the sittings 
of the Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal 
Church were appointed to be held. There in due 
time they arrived, and Josiah found many friends, 
to whom he was kindly introduced by his travelling 
companion and adviser. His visit to this place was 
to him a source of great enjoyment, and a new world 
seemed opening before him. Speaking of his 
benefactor he remarked : — 

" By his advice, after the Conference was over, 
I purchased a decent suit of clothes and an excellent 
horse, and travelled from town to town, preaching 


as I went. Everywhere I met with kindness. The 
contrast between the respect with which I was now 
treated, and the ordinary abuse, or at best insolent 
familiarity, of plantation life, was very grateful to 
me, as it must be to any one who feels that he 
possesses the noble nature of a man. The sweet 
enjoyment of sympathy, moreover, and the hearty 
* God speed you, brother,' which accompanied every 
dollar I received, were to my long-starved heart a 
celestial repast, and angels' food. Liberty was a 
glorious hope in my mind ; not as an escape from 
toil, for I rejoiced in toil when my heart was in it, 
but as an avenue to the sense of self-respect, to 
ennobling occupation, and to association with 
superior minds. Still, dear as was the thought of 
liberty, I clung to my determination to gain it only 
in one way — by purchase. The cup of my affliction 
had not, as yet, been full enough to lead me to dis. 
regard all terms with my master." 

Chapter viiL 


,. ._\uW.iO(kW..i 

A f0 




efore he left the State 
of Ohio, and set his 
f face towards Mont- 
V gomery County, in 
Maryland, where his 
master resided, Josiah 
found himself possessed of two 
hundred and seventy. five dollars, 
besides the horse and clothes which 
he had purchased. He was, 
perhaps, a little unduly elated with 
his success, and it was with no little satisfaction 
that about Christmas he rode up to the old house, 
and found himself again upon the farm where he 
had been known simply as " Riley's head nigger." 
His master gave him a boisterous reception, and 
expressed great delight at seeing him, exclaiming 
in his old, brutal fashion, as he looked upon him, 

" Why, what the have you been doing, Sie ? 

You've turned into a regular black gentleman." 
Josiah's horse and dress sorely puzzled the master; 





and Josiah soon saw that it began to irritate him,, 
that he, a slave, should be so much better dressed 
than his master. " Already," said josiah, " the 
workings of that tyrannical hate with which the 
coarse and brutal, who have no inherent superiority,, 
ever regard the least f sign of equality in their 
dependents, were visible in his manner. His face 
seemed to say, ' I'll take the gentleman out of you. 
pretty soon/ I gave him such an account of my 
preaching as, while it was consistent with the truths 
and explained my appearance, did not betray to him 
my principal purpose. He soon asked to see my 
pass ; and, when he found it authorized me to retura 
to Kentucky, handed it to his wife, and desired her 
to put it in his desk. This manoeuvre was cool and 
startling, for I had not calculated upon it. I seemed 
to hear the old prison gate clang, and the bolt shoot 
into the socket once more. But I said nothings 
and resolved to manoeuvre also." 

After putting his horse in the stable, he returned 
to the kitchen, where his master told him he was to 
sleep for the night. " O, how different," he. 
exclaimed, " from the accommodation which had 
been afforded to me in the Free States for the last 
three months, was the crowded room, with its dirt 
floor, and filth, and stench ! I looked around me 
with a feeling of disgust. The Negroes that I found 
there were all strangers to me, being slaves that 


Mrs. Riley had brought to her husband. Fool that 
I was to come back ! The idea of lying down in 
this nasty sty was insufferable." 

He found that his mother had died and passed. 
to the better land during his absence, and every 
tie which had ever connected him with the place 
was broken. Full of gloomy reflections on his 
loneliness and the poverty-stricken aspect of all 
around him, he sat down, and while his companions 
were snoring in unconsciousness, he kept awake, 
thinking how he should escape from the now 
wretched spot. He knew but of one friend to 
whom he could appeal for help — Master Frank, 
the brother of Riley's wife. Josiah had often done 
much to relieve his wants, and to lighten his sor- 
rows, when he was an abused and harshly-treated- 
boy in the house ; and he had ascertained that the 
young man, who was now of age, had established, 
himself in business at Washington. To him he 
resolved to go ; and in the morning, as soon as he 
thought it time to start, he saddled his horse and 
rode up to the house, thinking it best to put a bold 
front on the matter, and get back his pass, if prac- 
ticable. It was early ; but the master had already,, 
according to his habit, betaken himself to the 
tavern. Mrs. Riley came to the door, to look at 
his horse and equipments. " Where are you 
going, Siah ?" was the natural question. " I am. 

76 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

going to Washington, mistress," he replied. " I 
want to see Massa Frank, and I must take my 
pass with me, if you please." " O, every body 
knows you here," she remarked ; " you won't need 
your pass." " But I can't go to Washington with- 
out it, mistress ; I may be met by some surly 
stranger, who will stop me and annoy me, if he 
cannot do anything worse." " Well, I'll get it for 
you," she answered; and Josiah's heart danced 
with joy to see her return with it in her hand, and 
once more to get it in his own possession. 

He met with a kind and hearty reception from 
Master Frank, to whom he at once communicated 
.all his plans and hopes. The young man, who had 
not outgrown the generous impulses of youth, 
entered cordially into them, and promised all the 
assistance in his power. He had not forgotten the 
friendly services Josiah had rendered to him in 
former days. He thoroughly detested Riley, whom 
he charged with having defrauded him of a large 
portion of the property which he held for him as 
his guardian. He was not, however, at open war 
with him ; and he readily engaged to negotiate for 
Josiah's freedom, and bring Riley to the most 
favourable terms that could be obtained. In a few 
days he rode over to Riley's house, and had a long 
conversation with him concerning Josiah's desire 
to purchase his freedom. " He disclosed to him 


the facts that I had got some money," said Josiah , 
"and that I had regained possession of my pass ; 
and urged upon him that I was a smart fellow who 
was bent upon getting my freedom. He reminded 
him that I had served the family faithfully for 
many years, and had really paid for myself a hun- 
dred times over, in the increased amount of pro- 
duce I had raised by my skill and influence. And 
he further told him that if he did not take care and 
accept a fair offer when I made it to him, he would 
find some day that Sie could do without his help, 
and he would neither see me nor my money — that 
with my horse and my pass, and being a smart 
fellow withal, I was pretty well independent of him 
already, and he had better make up his mind to 
do what I desired of him with a good grace. " 

By these and similar arguments Mr. Frank 
not only induced his brother-in-law to think of the 
thing, but before long brought him to a bargain* 
by which he agreed to emancipate Josiah, and give 
him the requisite papers, for four hundred and fifty 
dollars : of which three hundred and fifty dollars 
were to be in cash, and the remainder in a promis- 
sory note. The cash he had already in hand ; and 
this, with the sale of his horse, enabled Josiah to 
fulfil the first part of the bargain, and his great 
hope seemed to be in a fair way of realization. 

Some time was spent in this negotiation ; but in 


March he was ready to start on his return to Ken- 
tucky, his manumission papers having been made 
out in due form of law. As he was getting ready 
for his journey, his master accosted him in the 
most friendly manner, and entered into conversa 
tion with him about his plans for the future. He 
inquired of Josiah what he was going to do with his 
certificate of freedom, and whether he would show 
it if questioned on the road ? Josiah replied in the 
affirmative. " You'll be a fool if you do," rejoined 
Riley; "some slave-trader will get hold of it and 
tear it up, and the first thing you know you'll be 
thrown into prison, sold for your jail fees, and be 
in his possession before any friend can help you. 
Don't show it at all. Your pass is enough. Let 
irie enclose your papers for you, under cover to my 
brother. Nobody will dare to break a seal, for that 
is a state-prison matter ; and when you arrive in 
Kentucky you will have it with you all safe and 

For this friendly advice, as Josiah thought it to 
"be, so plausible and reasonable, he felt extremely 
grateful. He cherished no suspicion. In his own 
presence Riley enclosed the precious papers in an 
'envelope and several wrappers ; and after he had 
sealed it with three seals, he directed it to his 
brother, in Davies County, Kentucky, and then 
handed it to Josiah, who stowed it carefully away 


In his carpet bag. Then bidding Riley and his 
wife farewell, he started on foot to Wheeling, 
where he took the steamboat, and in due time 
reached his destination. He had various adven- 
tures on the way, being several times arrested on 
suspicion of being a runaway slave. But he 
always insisted upon being carried before a 
Magistrate ; and showing his pass, which was 
perfectly regular, he was always at once set at 

Many an instance has occurred of slaves being 
plundered, over and over again, of the freedom 
which they had fairly earned and paid for. After 
devoting themselves for years to toil and saving in 
order to purchase themselves, and gain the blessing 
of liberty, they have found themselves betrayed 
and cheated, and the cup of blessing dashed from 
their lips just as they supposed themselves about 
to taste it. Josiah was to experience a bitter trial 
of this kind. The master who, from his childhood, 
had reaped all the fruit of his toil, whose sub- 
stance he had largely increased, and whom he had 
trusted and paid for his freedom, was a villain — 
a mean, contemptible swindler — who did not scruple 
to deceive and defraud the trusting dependent 
whom he professed to befriend. The boat which 
took Josiah down the river from Louisville stopped 
at the landing place just as it was getting dark, 


and a walk of five miles brought him to the plan- 
tation of Amos Riley. He went directly to his own 
cabin, and found his wife and little ones all well, 
and expecting his arrival. 

He now discovered that letters had arrived at 
the " great house, " containing information con- 
cerning him ; and his wife had already learnt that 
he had been preaching, and had raised money, and 
made a bargain for his freedom. It was not long 
before she began to question him on these subjects, 
being evidently possessed with the idea that he 
could not have acquired so large a sum of money 
by honest methods. He soon quieted her fears, by 
explaining to her how he had met with kind friends, 
who sympathized with his views, and came forward 
with their contributions to help him in gaining his 

Satisfied on these points, the anxious wife then 
proposed the question, " But how are you going to 
raise enough to pay the remainder of the thousand 
dollars?" " What thousand dollars?" he inquired* 
" Why, the thousand dollars you were to give for 
your freedom." He was staggered ; he trembled, 
for now he began to suspect some treachery. 
Again and again he questioned his wife as to what 
she had heard. She persisted in the same story, 
saying that it was so stated in his master's letters. 
Master Amos said that three hundred and fifty 


dollars had been paid down, and when six hundred 
and fifty more were paid Josiah was to have his 

" I now began to perceive the trick that had been 
played upon me," Josiah said, "and to see the 
management by which Riley had contrived that the 
only evidence of my freedom should be kept from 
every eye but that of his brother Amos, who was 
instructed to retain it until I had made up the 
balance I was falsely reported to have agreed to 
pay. Indignation is a faint word to express my 
sense of the villany by which I had been victimized. 
I was alternately beside myself with rage, and 
paralyzed with despair. My dream of bliss was 
over. What could I do to set myself right? The 
only witness to the truth, Master Frank, was a 
thousand miles away. I could neither write to him 
nor get any one else to write. Every man about me 
who could write was a slaveholder. I dared not go 
before a magistrate with my papers, for fear I 
should be seized and sold down the river before any 
thing could be done. I felt that every man's hand 
would be against me. ' O ! my God ! hast Thou 
forsaken me ? ' I was tempted to inquire, in the 
anguish that overwhelmed my soul. 

" One thing was clear; my papers must never be 
surrendered to Master Amos. I told my wife I 
had not seen them since I left Louisville; they 



might be in the bag, or they might be lost. At all 
events I determined not to see them, and hinted to 
my wife that the best thing to be done was for her 
to obtain possession of them, if she could, and keep 
me in profound ignorance as to the manner in which 
they were disposed of; so that I might be able to 
say with truth that the packet had disappeared from 
my carpet bag, and I could not tell where it was. 
It was a case in which I thought it no wrong to 
meet guile with guile. 

" The next morning, at the blowing of the horn, 
I went to find out Master Amos. I found him 
sitting on a stile, and as I drew near enough for 
him to recognise me, he shouted out a. rough 
welcome in his own style, ' Why, halloa, Sie ! is 

that you ? Got back, eh ! Why, you old I'm 

glad to see you.' The blank must be left to the 
imagination of the reader, as it would scarcely be 
proper to fill itup. After uttering some coarse expres- 
sions, ' Why,' he continued, ' you're a regular black 
gentleman.' He surveyed me from head to foot 
with an appreciative grin, and then proceeded with 
his remarks, < Well, boy, how's your master? Isaac 
says you want to be free. Want to be free, eh ! I 
think your master treats you pretty hard though ; 
six hundred and fifty dollars don't come so easy in 
old Kentuck. How does he ever expect you to 
raise all that ? It's too much, boy. It's too much.' 


In the conversation that followed I discovered that 
my wife was right. Riley had no idea of letting me 
off, and supposed I could contrive to raise six 
hundred and fifty as easily as one hundred dollars. 

" Master Amos soon asked me if I had not a 
paper for him. I told him I had one when I left 
Maryland; but the last time I saw it was at 
Louisville, and now it was not in my bag, and I 
could not tell him what had become of it. He sent 
me back to the landing to see if it had been dropped 
on the way. Of course I had no intention of find- 
ing it, and came back and told him it had not been 
dropped in the path, or if it had some one might 
have picked it up. He made no stir about it ; for 
he had his own purposes to serve by keeping me at 
work for himself, and regarded the whole as a trick 
of his brother's to get money out of me, looking 
upon it as a sharp and clever act. All he said about 
the loss of the packet was, ' Well, boy, bad luck 
happens to everybody sometimes.' 

" But lightly as he treated it, I was in a frenzy of 
grief at the base trick and the irremediable wrong 
that had been practised towards me. I had supposed 
that I should now be free to start out and gain the 
other hundred dollars, which would discharge my 
obligations to my owner, and set me free from the 
curse of slavery. But I found that I was to begin 
again with my old labours, and the coveted blessing 

g 2 


was as far off as ever. Deeply and painfully as I 
felt the disappointment, it was useless to give ex- 
pression to my feelings, and I went about my work 
with as quiet a mind as I could, resolved to trust in 
God, watch and pray for another opportunity, and 
never despair." 

Chapter ix. 


or about a year things 
went on in the ordinary 
way with Josiah, Mas- 
ter Amos frequently 
joking with him con- 
cerning the six hundred 
and fifty dollars, and 
saying that his brother kept on writ- 
ing to know why Josiah did not send 
him something towards it. But 
Mr. Amos had no desire to play into 
the hands of his brother ; he was 
glad enough to getjosiah's profitable services to take 
care of his stock and people. Neither had he any 
desire or intention that Josiah should obtain his 
freedom ; and, as events showed, he was meditating 
the most effectual measures to prevent it. 

One day Master Amos suddenly informed Josiah 
that his son, also named Amos, a young man about 


twenty-one years of age, was going down the river 
to New Orleans with a flat-boat laden with produce, 
and he, Josiah, was to accompany him. This 
intimation was enough. He knew at once that the 
intention was to sell him down South, and his heart 
sank within him at the near prospect of such a fatal 
blight to all his hopes. With indescribable misery, 
nearly approaching to despair, he made ready to go 
on board the flat-boat; but there was one thing 
that seemed to him important. He requested his 
wife to sew up his manumission paper, which she 
had carefully hidden, in a piece of cloth, and to sew 
that again round his person. Having possession 
of it might possibly be the means of saving him, 
and he resolved not to neglect anything that offered 
the smallest chance of escape from the fearful fate 
that threatened him. 

Josiah never rightly understood the true reason of 
this movement on the part of Master Amos. He 
knew that it grew out of a frequent interchange of 
letters between the two brothers. But whether it 
was agreed upon by the brothers, as a compromise 
of their rival claims, to sell Josiah, and divide the 
proceeds, or whether Master Amos, in fear of his 
running away, had resolved to dispose of him for 
his own profit, he never ascertained. The inten- 
tion to sell him to the South was clear enough, and 
it was a fearful blow to the intended victim. 


When the time for his departure arrived, Josiah's 
wife and children accompanied him to the landing, 
where he bade them adieu, with little hope on his 
part, or theirs, of ever meeting again in this world. 
The boat was manned by three white men, who 
had been hired for the trip, and Josiah and his 
young master. The cargo consisted of beef, cattle, 
pigs, poultry, corn, whiskey, and other articles 
from the farm and from some of the neighbouring 
estates, which were to be sold, as the boat dropped 
down the river with the current, wherever they 
could be disposed of to the greatest advantage. 

" We were all," said Josiah, " bound to take our 
trick at the helm in turn, sometimes under the 
direction of the captain, and sometimes on our own 
responsibility, as he could not be always awake. 
In the daytime there was less difficulty than at 
night, when it required some one who knew the 
river to avoid sand-bars and snags ; and the captain 
was the only person on board who possessed the 
requisite knowledge. But whether by day or by 
night, as I was the only Negro on board, I was 
made to stand three tricks at least to any other 
person's one ; so that from being much with the 
captain, and frequently thrown upon my own exer- 
tions, I learned the art of steering and managing 
the boat far better than the rest. I watched the 
manoeuvres necessary to shoot by a sawyer, to 


land on a bank, or avoid a snag or a steamboat in 
the rapid current of the Mississippi, till I could do 
it as well as the captain. After a while he was 
attacked by a disease of the eyes : they became 
very much inflamed and swollen, and he was soon 
rendered totally blind and incapable of performing 
his share of duty. I was the person who could 
best take his place, and I w r as in fact master of the 
boat from that time until our arrival at New 

" After the captain became blind we were obliged 
to lie by at night, as none of us except himself had 
been down the river before. It was necessary to 
keep watch all night, to prevent depredations by 
the Negroes from the shore, who used sometimes 
to attack such boats as ours for the sake of the 
provisions on board. 

" On our way down the river we stopped at 
Vicksburg, and I got permission to visit a planta- 
tion a few miles from the town, where some of my 
old companions whom I had brought from Ken- 
tucky were living. It was the saddest visit I ever 
made. Four years in an unhealthy climate, and 
under a hard master, had done the ordinary work of 
twenty. Their cheeks were hollow with starvation 
and disease, and their bodies infested with vermin. 
I had scarcely imagined that hell could surpass 
the misery they described as their daily portion. 


Toiling half naked in malarious marshes, under a 
burning, maddening sun, and poisoned by swarms 
of mosquitoes and black gnats, they looked for- 
ward to death as their only hope of deliverance. 
Some of them fairly cried at seeing me there, and 
at the thought of the wretched fate which they felt 
awaited me. Their worst fears of being sold down 
South had been more than realized. I went away 
sick at heart ; and to this day the sight of that 
wretched group haunts me." 

" All nature seemed to feed my gloomy thoughts. 
I know not what most men see in voyaging down 
the Mississippi. If gay and hopeful, probably much 
of beauty and interest. If eager merchants, probably 
a golden river freighted with the wealth of nations. 
I beheld nothing but portents of woe and despair. 
Wretched slave pens, a smell of stagnant waters, 
half putrid carcases of horses or oxen floating along, 
covered with turkey buzzards or swarms of green 
flies, — these are the images with which memory 
crowds my mind. My faith in God had almost given 
way. I could no longer pray or trust. It seemed as if 
He had abandoned me and cast me off forever." 

It is not surprising that, yielding himself to such 
gloomy fancies and depressing influences, the great 
adversary should take advantage of such an oppor- 
tunity to suggest evil thoughts, and lead him into 
powerful temptation, until he had well nigh com- 


mitted a crime that would have marred his peace 
of mind for ever, and given a fearful change to the 
whole current of his existence. We will give his 
own account of this " terrible temptation, M as he 
designated it, in his own language. 

" As I paced backwards and forwards on the 
deck, during my watch, it may well be believed 
that I revolved in my mind many a painful and 
passionate thought. After all that I had done for 
Isaac and Amos Riley, after all the regard they 
had professed for me, such a return as this for my 
services, such an evidence of their utter disregard 
of my claims upon them, and the intense selfish- 
ness with which they were ready to sacrifice me at 
any moment to their supposed interest, turned my 
blood into gall, and changed me from a lively, and, 
I will say, a pleasant-tempered fellow, into a savage, 
morose, dangerous slave. I was going not at all 
as a lamb to the slaughter ; but I felt myself be- 
coming more ferocious every day. As we ap- 
proached the place where the iniquity was to be 
consummated, and I was to be sold to any ruffianly 
master that would give the price demanded for me, 
I became more and more agitated with an almost 
uncontrollable fury. I said to myself ,' If this is 
to be my lot, I cannot survive it long. I am not 
so young as those whose wretched condition I have 
but just now seen ; and if it has brought them to 


such a condition, it will soon kill me. I am to be 
taken by my masters and owners, who ought to be 
my grateful friends, to a place and a condition 
where my life is to be shortened, as well as made 
more wretched. Why should I not prevent this 
wrong, if I can, by shortening their lives, or those 
of their agents, in accomplishing such a detestable 
injustice ? I can do the last easily enough. They 
have no suspicion of me, and they are at this 
moment under my control, and in my power. There 
are many ways in which I can despatch them and 
escape : and I feel that I should be justified in 
availing myself of the first good opportunity. ' J 

" These were not thoughts that first flitted across 
my mind's eye, and then disappeared. They 
fashioned themselves into shapes which grew 
larger and more distinct every time they presented 
themselves ; and at length my mind was made up 
to convert the phanton shadow into a positive 

" I resolved to kill my four companions, take 
what money there was in the boat, then scuttle the 
craft, and escape to the North. It was a poor plan, 
may be, and would very likely have failed, but it 
was as well contrived, under the circumstances, as 
the plans of murderers usually are; and, blinded 
by passion and stung to madness as I was, I could 
not see any difficulty about it. One dark, rainy 


night, within a few days' sail of New Orleans, my 
hour seemed to have come. I was alone on the 
deck : Master Amos and the hands were all asleep 
below. I crept down noiselessly, got hold of an 
axe, entered the cabin, and looking by the aid of 
the dim light there for my victims, my eye fell 
upon Master Amos, who was nearest to me. My 
hand slid along the axe handle, and I raised it to 
strike the fatal blow, — when suddenly the thought 
flashed on my mind, 'What ! commit murder ! and 
you a Christian ? ' I had not called it murder 
before. It was self-defence,— it was preventing 
others from murdering me, — it was justifiable, it 
was even praiseworthy ! But now, all at once, the 
truth burst upon me that it was a crime. I was 
going to kill a young man who had done nothing 
to injure me, but was only obeying commands 
which he could not resist. I was about to lose the 
fruit of all my efforts at self-improvement, the good 
character I had acquired, and the peace of mind 
which God had given me. All this came upon me 
instantly, and with a distinctness which almost 
made me think I heard it whispered in my ear : and 
I believe I even turned my head to listen. I shrunk 
back, laid down the axe, and thanked God, as I 
iiave done every day since, that I had been saved 
from committing murder. 

" My feelings were still agitated, but they were 


changed. I was filled with shame and remorse for 
the design I had entertained, and with the fear that 
my companions would detect it in my face, or that 
a careless word would betray my guilty thoughts, I 
remained on deck all night, instead of rousing one 
of the men to relieve me. I was now able to pray, 
and it brought sweet composure to my mind when. 
I formed the solemn resolution to resign myself to 
the will of God, and take, if not with thankfulness, 
yet with submission, whatever He might decide 
should be my lot. I felt that it was better to die 
with a Christian's hope and a quiet conscience, 
than to live with the incessant recollection of a 
deadly crime that would destroy the value of life, and 
under the weight of a secret that would crush out 
all the satisfaction that might be expected from 
freedom and every other blessing. 

" It was long before I quite recovered my self- 
control and serenity. But I believe that no one, 
except those to whom I have told the story myself, 
ever suspected me of entertaining such thoughts 
for one moment." 

Resolving to put his trust in God, and commit 
his way unto Him, Josiah left events to the disposal 
of His Providence ; and the Lord wonderfully 
interposed for his deliverance from the great evil 
which threatened him, and which appeared to be 
inevitable. In a few days after the circumstances 


occurred which are related above, the boat with the 
remains of its cargo arrived at New Orleans • 
This was soon disposed of, the men paid off and 
discharged, and nothing was left but to dispose of 
Josiah, break up the boat, according to usage, and 
sell the materials. There was no longer any dis- 
guise about the manner in which Josiah was to be 
dealt with. He was to be sold. Master Amos 
acknowledged that such were the instructions which 
had been given to him, and he set about fulfilling 
them. Several planters came to the boat to look 
upon the chattel that was to be disposed of. He 
was sent off on hasty errands, that they might see 
how he could run; his points were canvassed as 
those of a horse would have been, and his various 
faculties and merits described, that his value as a 
domestic animal might be enhanced. Master Amos 
had talked with seeming kindness about getting 
josiah a good master, who would employ him as a 
coachman or a domestic : but as time passed on, 
Josiah saw no effort of this kind, but rather a will- 
ingness to deal with any purchaser who would give 
the price, no matter who or what he might be. 

Josiah tried all means to move the heart of his 
young master, beseeching him with tears and 
groans not sell him away from his wife and chil- 
dren whom he had left behind. He dwelt on the 
services he had rendered to the father, and called 


to remembrance a thousand kind things he had 
done for the youth personally. He described the 
wretched condition of the slaves he had seen near 
Vicksburg, and begged that he might not be 
given over to a like wretched fate. 

" Sometimes," said Josiah, " he would shed tears 
himself, and say he was sorry for me. But still I 
saw his purpose was unchanged. He now kept 
out of my way as much as possible. His con- 
science evidently troubled him. He knew he was 
doing a cruel and wicked thing, and wanted to 
escape from thinking about it. I followed him up 
hard, for I felt that I was supplicating for my life. 
I fell down and clung to his knees in entreaties. 
Sometimes, when I pressed him too closely, he 
would curse and strike me. May God forgive him ! 
And yet it was not all his fault. He was made 
hard-hearted and cruel by the accursed relation of 
slave-master and slave. To him I was property, 
— not a man, not a father, not a husband. And 
the laws of self-interest, not of humanity and love, 
bore sway." 

At length everything was wound up but this 
single affair. Josiah was to be sold the next day, 
and Master Amos to set off on his return in a 
steamboat, at six o'clock in the afternoon. Josiah 
could not sleep that night because of the thoughts 
that troubled him. And now occurred one of those 

96 josiah : the maimed fugitive. 

sudden, marked interpositions of Providence, by 
which in a moment the whole current of a man's 
life is changed ; one of those slight and, at first, 
unappreciated contingencies, by which the faith 
that man's extremity is God's opportunity is kept 
alive. God had heard, and God was answering,, 
the prayers which in his anguish and despair 
Josiah had sent up to Him. A little before day- 
light Master Amos called him, and told him he felt 
sick. " Little did I think then," said he, " how 
much my future was bound up in those few words. 
I advised him to lie down again, thinking the sick- 
ness would soon pass off. Before long he felt 
worse, and it soon became evident that the river 
fever was upon him. He became rapidly very ill, 
and by eight o'clock in the morning was utterly 
prostrate. The tables were now turned. I was 
no longer mere property, no longer a brute beast 
to be bought and sold : but his only friend in the 
midst of strangers who cared not for him. How 
different now was his tone from what it had been 
the day before ! He was now the supplicant. A 
poor, terrified object, afraid of death, and writhing 
with pain, there lay the late arbiter of my destiny. 
How earnestly he besought me to forgive him ! 
1 Stick to me, Sie ! Stick to me, Sie ! Don't 
leave me ! O, don't leave me ! I'm sorry I was. 
going to sell you.' 


" Sometimes he would say he had only been joking, 
and never really intended to sell me. But I knew 
better than that. He entreated me to despatch 
matters, sell the flat-boat, in which all along we 
had been living, for what I could get for it, and 
get him and his trunk, containing the proceeds 
of the trip, on board the steamer as quick as 
possible. I attended to all his requests, and by 
twelve o'clock that day he was in one of the cabins 
of the steamer appropriated to sick passengers. 
O, my God ! how my heart sang jubilees of praise 
to Thee, as the steamboat swang loose from the 
levee, and breasted the mighty tide of the Missis- 
sippi ! Away from this land of bondage and death ! 
Away from misery and despair ! Once more exult- 
ing hope possessed me. This time, I thought, if I 
do not open my way to freedom, may God never 
give me the chance again ! 

" Before we had proceeded many hours on our 
voyage, a change for the better appeared in my 
young master. The refreshing air on the river in 
a measure revived him : and well it was for him 
that such was the case. Short as his illness had 
been, the fever had raged like a fire, and he was 
already near death. I watched and nursed him 
like a mother, for all remembrance of personal 
wrong was obliterated at sight of his peril. 
His eyes followed me in entreaty wherever I 


98 josiah : the maimed fugitive. 

moved. His strength was so entirely gone at one 
time, that he was unable to speak or move a limb> 
and could only indicate his wish for a teaspoonful 
of gruel, or something to moisten his parched 
throat, by a feeble motion of his lips. I tended 
him carefully and constantly. Nothing else could 
have saved his life. It hung by a thread for a long 
time. We were twelve days in reaching home, for 
the water was low at that season — particularly in 
the Ohio River, into which we entered after travel- 
ling about eleven hundred miles up the muddy 
Mississippi. When we arrived at our landing-place 
he was still unable to speak, and could only be 
moved upon a litter. Something of this sort, with a 
sheet over it, was soon fixed up, on which he could 
be carried to the house, which was five miles off; 
and I procured a party of the slaves belonging to 
the plantation to form relays for this purpose. As 
we approached the house, the surprise of its in- 
mates at seeing me back again, and their perplexity 
to imagine what I was bringing along with such a 
party, were extreme. But the matter was soon 
explained, and the grief of father and mother, and 
sister and brothers, made itself seen and heard. 
Loud and long were the lamentations bestowed 
upon poor Amos; and, when the family re- 
covered themselves a little, great commenda- 
tions were bestowed upon me for the care I had 


taken of him and the property he had in his 

" Although we reached home by the ioth of July, 
it was not until the middle of August that Master 
Amos was well enough to leave his chamber. To 
do him justice, he manifested strong gratitude 
towards me. Almost his first words, after recovering 
his strength sufficiently to talk, were in commenda- 
tion of my conduct. ' If I had sold him/ he said, 
* I should have died !' On the rest of the family no 
permanent impression seemed to have been made. 
The first few words of praise were all I ever 
received. I was set at my old work. Whatever 
any merits were, instead of exciting gratitude or 
feelings of attachment to me, they seemed only to 
enhance my market value. I saw clearly that my 
master's only thought was to render me profitable 
to himself. From him I had nothing to hope, and I 
turned my thoughts first to God as my only helper, 
and then to myself and myown energies. 

"Before long I felt assured another attempt 
would shortly be made to dispose of me. Provi- 
dence had signally interfered once to defeat the 
nefarious scheme ; but I could not expect another 
such extraordinary deliverance. I felt bound, there- 
fore, to take the case now into my own hands, and 
do all that was in my power to secure myself and 
my family from the wicked conspiracy of Isaac and 

H 2 


Amos Riley against my natural rights, and those 
which I had fairly acquired, under even the barbar- 
ous laws of slavery, by the money I had paid for 
myself. If Isaac had been honest enough to 
adhere to his bargain, I would have fulfilled mine,, 
and paid him all that, I had promised. But his 
attempt to kidnap and sell me again, after having 
pocketed three-fourths of my market value, was 
sufficient in my judgment to absolve me from all 
obligation to pay him any more, or to continue in> 
a position that left me exposed to the machinations 
of himself and his equally unscrupulous brother* 1 * 

Chapter x„- 


uring the few bright 
and hopeful days 
Josiah had spent in 
the free state of Ohio, 
^ " while on the preach- 

ing tour described in a preced- 
ing chapter, he had learnt much 
of the course pursued by fugi- 
tives from the slave land, and 
had become acquainted with 
some of the benevolent men 
engaged in helping them on their way — the station- 
masters on the " Underground Railway." Canada 
was often spoken of in his hearing as the sure 
refuge from pursuit ; and that promised land now 
became the subject of his frequent thoughts, and 
the desire of his longing heart. He knew that 
great toils and perils lay between him and the home 
of freedom to which his hopes were directed, 
enough to daunt the stoutest heart ; " but the fire 
behind me," he said, "was too hot and too fierce 


to allow me to consider them." He knew the 
North Star. " Blessed be God," he said, " for set- 
ting it in the heavens ! Like the Star of Bethle- 
hem, it announced where salvation lay." He 
thought of it as the God-given guide to the land 
of promise beneath its light, and he knew that it 
had led thousands of his poor, hunted brethren to 
freedom and blessedness. 

Josiah felt assured that he could follow this guide 
through forest, stream, and field. He was conscious 
that there was energy enough in his own breast to 
contend with privation and danger; and had he 
been an untrammelled man, knowing no tie of 
husband or father, all difficulties would have been 
comparatively light in such an undertaking.- But 
he had a wife and four dear children : how should 
he provide for them ? Leave them behind ? 
Abandon them ? No : he could not even for the 
blessed boon of freedom ! They, too, must go. 
They must share with him the life of liberty which 
he was resolved to achieve! 

After much thought and prayer he devised and 
matured a plan of escape. And it was not until he 
had done this that he communicated his intention 
to his wife. She was overwhelmed with terror. 
" Poor thing ! " said Josiah, " she had not suffered 
the bitterness of my lot, nor felt the same longing 
for deliverance. She was a poor, ignorant, un- 


reasoning slave-woman. With a woman's instinct 
she clung to home. She knew nothing of the wide 
world beyond, and her imagination peopled it with 
horrors. We should die in the wilderness, — we 
should be hunted down with bloodhounds, — we 
should be brought back and whipped to death. 
Such were the terrors that filled her mind. With 
tears and supplications she besought me to remain 
at home contented ; and it was for a long time in 
vain that I explained to her our liability to be torn 
asunder at any moment, the horrors of the slavery 
I had lately seen in the South, and the happiness 
we might enjoy together in a land of freedom." 

He prevailed at length over his wife's scruples 
and fears. He told her, after much argument and 
persuasion had been tried without effect, that, 
though it would be a bitter trial to part with her, 
he would nevertheless be compelled to do it, rather 
than remain to be sold to the South, and linger out 
a wretched existence in the hell he had lately visited. 
He would take all the children with him except the 
youngest; that he would leave with her. She wept 
and entreated ; but, finding him resolute, at length 
yielded. " Exhausted and almost maddened," he 
said, " I left her in the morning to go to my work 
for the day. Before I had gone far, I heard her 
voice calling me, and waiting till she came up, she 
said, at last, she would go with me. Blessed relief! 


My tears of joy flowed faster than hers of 
grief. " 

Josiah's cabin was situated near the landing place 
at the river ; which was a favourable circumstance, 
as it would facilitate his getting away when the 
time came. The plantation extended the whole 
five miles from the house down to the river. It 
comprised several farms, of all which Josiah was the 
overseer, so that he was, ordinarily, riding about 
from one to the other every day. His eldest boy 
was at the great house waiting on Master Amos ; 
the other children were all at home with their 

The chief difficulty that weighed upon Josiah's 
mind about getting away was connected with the 
two youngest children. One was three, the other 
two years old ; and of course both of them would 
have to be carried all the way, a journey of many 
hundreds of miles. Both were stout and heavy ; 
and the mother declared that Josiah would certainly 
break down with the burden of them before he got 
five miles away. To obviate this difficulty, he re- 
solved to get accustomed to the exercise of bearing 
them. He therefore caused his wife to make a 
strong knapsack of tow-cloth, large enough to hold 
them both, and arranged with strong straps to go 
round the shoulders and sit easily on the back. 
This done, every night for some hours he practised 


carrying them about, to test his own strength and ac- 
custom the children to submit to the constraint. It 
was fine fun for them ; and he found to his great joy 
that he was soon able to manage them with ease, 
and bear them for hours together without fatigue. 

At length the appointed time arrived. It was 
Saturday night. Sunday was a holiday. On Mon- 
day and Tuesday Josiah was to be away on the farms 
most distant from the house. Thus all was favour- 
able ; several days would probably elapse before 
he would be missed, and by that time he would 
have got a good start ahead. One thing remained 
to be done : he must obtain the master's permission 
for little Tom to visit his mother. About sun-down 
on Saturday he went up to the great house to re- 
port his work, and then seemingly started off for 
home. But appearing to recollect something he 
had forgotten, he turned back in a sort of careless 
manner, and said, " O Master Amos, Tom's mother 
wants to know if you won't let him come down for 
a few days, that she may mend his clothes and fix 
him up a little ?" " Yes, boy, yes, he can go. 1 ' 
" Thankee, Master Amos ; goodnight. The Lord 
bless you !" 

" I could not," said Josiah, " help throwing a 
good deal of emphasis into my farewell. And I 
could not refrain from an inward chuckle at the 
thought — How long a good night that will be ! The 


coast was now all clear ; and as I trudged along 
home, with my boy by my side, I took an affection- 
ate look at the familiar objects on my way. Strange 
to say, sorrow mingled with my joy: but no man I 
think can live anywhere long without feeling some 
attachment to the soil on which he labours. " 

It was about the middle of September, on a 
moonless night, when Josiah and his family com- 
menced their exodus from the slave land. Josiah 
had prevailed upon a fellow slave to put them 
across the river in a skiff. All sat still as death in 
the boat ; and when they were in the middle of the 
stream, the poor fellow said in a whisper, " It wilL 
be the end of me if this is ever found out : but you 
won't be brought back alive, Sie, will you ?" " Not 
if I can help it," was the reply ; and Josiah glanced 
at the pistols and bowie-knife which he had pro- 
vided for the occasion, and placed about his 
person. "And if they're too many for you, and 
you get seized, you'll never tell my part in this 
business?" "Not if I am shot through like a 
sieve." " That's all," said he, " and God help you." 

They soon landed on the Indiana shore, and bade 
farewell — a grateful farewell — to their friend in the 
skiff, who at once returned to the Kentucky shore ; 
Josiah watching his humble friend until the dark- 
ness seemed to swallow him up. Before daylight 
should come on, they must put as many miles as 



possible between them and their former home. They 
had none to look to for aid but God : for that part of 
the country, though a free state, was hostile to the 
fugitive, and always full of slave-hunters. Fervently 
did they pray to Him who was their only trust, as they 
trudged on cautiously and steadily as fast as the 
darkness and the feebleness of some of the party 
would allow. Even then, Josiah's wife, terrified 
with her fears, implored him to return. 

For a fortnight they continued their weary jour- 
ney, keeping to the road in the night, but hiding 
whenever a vehicle or horseman approached ; and 
during the day lying concealed in the woods, and. 
sometimes in the dense and deadly swamps. By 
this time their provisions were giving out, and two 
days before they reached Cincinnati, they were 
quite exhausted. " All night the children cried 
with hunger," Josiah said; " and my poor wife 
loaded me with reproaches for bringing them into 
such misery. It was a bitter thing to hear them 
cry ] and God knows I greatly needed encourage- 
ment myself. My limbs were weary, and my back 
and shoulders raw with the burden I carried. A 
dread of detection constantly pursued me, and I 
would often start out of my sleep in terror, expect- 
ing to find the dogs and the slave-hunters after me. 
Had I been alone I would have borne the starva- 
tion cheerfully ; but something must be done for 


josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

the wife and children. It was necessary to run the 
risk of exposure by daylight upon the road." 

Josiah left his hiding place and took to the road, 
proceeding southward to lull the suspicions that 


would be aroused if he were seen going the other 
way. He came to a house, and a furious dog 
rushed out upon him, soon followed by the master. 
Josiah requested the man to sell him a little bread 


and meat. The surly reply was, " No, I have 
nothing for niggers." At the next house he came 
to he succeeded no better at first. The man of the 
house replied to him as surlily as the other : but 
the wife inside, hearing the conversation, remon.. 
strated, and said to her husband, " How can you 
treat any human being so ? If a dog was hungry, 
I would give him something to eat. We have 
children, and some day they may need the help of 
a friend." The man laughed and told her she 
might care for niggers, he wouldn't. The kind- 
hearted woman asked Josiah to go in, and gave 
him a large plateful of venison and bread. " When 
he had put it in his handkerchief, he laid a quarter of" 
a dollar on the table to pay for it. She quietly took up 
the money and put it in the handkerchief, with more 
venison and bread. Josiah felt the hot tears stream- 
ing down his cheeks as she said, " God bless you I " 
and he hurried away to relieve his starving wife and! 
little ones. 

The venison being salted, it made them all very 
thirsty, and the children began to groan and sigh. 
for water. Josiah went cautiously about looking 
for some, and came at last to a little rill. He took 
a large draft himself, and then tried to carry some 
to the rest of the party in his hat. But the hat 
was leaky, and the water all ran out before he 
could get to them. He then took off both his shoes,, 


which, luckily, had no holes in them, rinsed them 
out, and filling them with water, carried it to the 
thirsty sufferers. They drank it with great delight. 
" I have since then," he said, " sat at richly fur- 
nished tables in Canada, the United States, and in 
England; but never did I see any human beings 
relish anything more than my poor famishing little 
ones did that refreshing draught out of their father's 

Two days after, economizing their food, that they 
might run no more risks upon the road, they 
reached Cincinnati. Before entering the city, 
Josiah hid away his wife and children in the bush, 
and went on alone to find out friends. This was 
soon done, and they welcomed him warmly. Soon 
after dusk the whole party were brought in, and 
found themselves hospitably cheered and refreshed 
by loving friends. Two weeks of exposure to in- 
cessant fatigue, anxiety, rain, and chill, made it 
indescribably sweet to enjoy once more the comfort 
-of rest and shelter. 

Those who have read that touching, thrilling 
narrative of slave life, given by Mrs. H. B. Stowe 
in her " Uncle Tom's Cabin," will know that there 
was a noble band of men and women in the border 
states, who, trampling on wicked and cruel laws 
that made the exercise of humanity to the suffer- 
ing a crime, exposed themselves to fines and im- 


prisonment by succouring and aiding the hunted 
fugitives. Who can doubt that the great Master 
will say to these noble-souled followers of His, in 
the great day? — " Come ye, blessed of My Father, 
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the 
foundation of the world : for I was an hungred, and 
ye gave Me meat : I was thirsty, and ye gave Me 
drink : I was a stranger, and ye took Me in : naked, 
and ye clothed Me : I was sick, and ye visited Me : 
I was in prison, and ye came unto Me. Inasmuch 
as ye have done it unto one of the least of these 
My brethren, ye have done it unto Me." 

Into such benevolent hands Josiah and his family 
fell. These good Samaritans received and shel- 
tered them, and provided for their welfare until their 
strength was recruited ; and then they put them 
on their way more than thirty miles in a covered 
waggon. This journey was performed in the night; 
and in the morning Josiah and his party were left 
again to their own resources. They followed the 
same course as before, travelling in the night, and 
resting, concealing themselves in the woods, by 
day. The North Star was their friendly guide, and 
at length they arrived at the Scioto River, where, 
they had been told, they would strike a military 
road made by General Hull in the last war with 
Great Britain, and might then safely travel by day. 
They came to the road, and entered upon it in high 


spirits ; but by this time the provisions they had 
brought with them from Cincinnati were exhausted. 
They had relied upon getting their wants supplied 
by the way with the little money they had with 
them. But they now found to their dismay that 
the road was cut through a wilderness, and they 
looked in vain for a human habitation. All day they 
travelled without seeing one, and at night lay down 
hungry, weary, and dispirited. The wolves were 
howling around them, greatly terrifying the children 
and their mother, and they obtained but little rest. 
In the morning they divided among them the last 
morsel of food that was left. It was only a little 
fragment of dried beef, not enough to satisfy their 
hunger, but sufficient to produce intolerable thirst. 
Then they started on their day's weary journey. 

The road was rough. The underbrush tore their 
clothes and exhausted their strength ; trees that 
had been blown down blocked the way, and they 
were faint with hunger, and no prospect of relief 
before them. But they struggled along, Josiah 
with the two babes on his back, his wife aiding as 
she could the two other little children to climb 
over the fallen trunks and force themselves through 
the briers. " Suddenly," he said, " as I was plod- 
ding along a little ahead of the rest, I heard them 
call me, and turning round saw my wife prostrate 
on the ground. J Mother's dying,' cried Tom ; and 


when I reached her it seemed really so. From 
sheer exhaustion she had fallen, and fainted in sur- 
mounting a log. For some minutes no sign of life 
was manifest; but after a time she opened her 
eyes, and after a long rest partly recovered her 
strength, and again we went bravely on our way. 
I cheered the sad group with hopes I was far from 
sharing myself. For the first time I was nearly 
ready to abandon myself to despair. Starvation in 
the wilderness was the doom that stared me in the 
face. Bat again, " Man's extremity was God's 
opportunity. " 

As they plodded on their weary way, and the 
evening was advancing, they perceived some per- 
sons in the distance apparently approaching them. 
They were instantly on the alert to conceal them- 
selves, as they could not expect to meet any who 
were friendly in that vicinity. But when the 
strangers came near enough to be seen distinctly, 
it was discovered that they were Indians with 
packs on their shoulders. Supposing that the 
Indians could not but have seen him and his party, 
Josiah resolved to act boldly, and walked up to 
them. They were bent down with their burdens, 
and it seems had not raised their heads until now ; 
for as soon as they saw Josiah and his companions 
they looked frightened for a moment, and then, 
giving utterance to a peculiar howl, turned round 


H4 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

and ran away as fast as they could ; and Josiah's 
party heard their howling as they scampered off 
for a mile or more. 

Josiah's wife, who was a poor timid creature, 
was frightened too, and thought they were merely- 
running back to collect a larger party, and would 
then return and murder them all ; and she was 
disposed to turn back. Josiah combatted her fears, 
and told her that the Indians they saw were already 
sufficiently numerous to do them evil, if they were 
so disposed, without further help ; and that, as for 
turning back, he had had quite too much of the 
road behind them already, and it would be very 
ridiculous for both parties to run away from each 
other. They advanced cautiously, and soon dis- 
covered Indians peeping at them from behind the 
trees, and then dodging out of sight as soon as 
they saw that they were observed. Soon after they 
came in sight of several wigwams ; when a fine- 
looking stately Indian came forward with his arms 
folded, and waited for their approach. He was 
evidently the chief; and saluting them civilly and 
gracefully, he spoke to his young men who were 
scattered about, and made them come forward and 
give up their foolish fears. Then curiosity began 
to prevail. Each one wanted to touch the children, 
who had become very shy with their life in the 
woods; and as the children shrunk away from the 


touch of the Indians, they also would jump back, 
as if they thought the little ones would bite them. 
A little while, however, sufficed to put them at 
their ease, and make them understand whither 
Josiah and his party were going, and what they 
needed. With great alacrity they set to work and 
provided for the wants of their unexpected guests, 
who were bountifully entertained with such food as 
the wigwams afforded ; and then, after a hearty 
and welcome meal, a comfortable wigwam was 
appropriated to them for their night's rest. 

A pleasant evening spent among the Indians 
was followed by a night of unbroken and refresh- 
ing sleep ; and they were delighted to understand 
from their hosts in the morning that they were now not 
more than twenty-five or thirty miles from Lake Erie, 
on the opposite shore of which lay the promised land 
of freedom to which they were bound. The Indians 
they found to be an encampment of about twenty- 
five in number, besides children. After ministering 
to their refreshment again before they resumed 
their journey, the chief directed some of his young 
men to conduct them to the place where they might 
turn on the most direct route to their destination, and 
parted from them with all possible kindness. Josiah 
was very grateful to these hospitable Indians ; and yet 
more thankfulto Him whohadthusmade provision for 
them in the desert in a manner altogether unexpected . 

1 2 


During the day they had to pass a stream, which 
Josiah forded first by the help of a pole, and then 
succeeded in carrying the children across, the wife 
fording it like himself. " At this time," he said, 
" the skin was worn from my back to an extent 
almost equal to the size of my knapsack/' One 
more night was passed in the woods ; and in the 
course of the next forenoon the party emerged upon 
the wide plain without trees which lies to the south 
and west of Sandusky city. The houses of the 
city were plainly in sight ; and at about a mile 
distant from the lake Josiah concealed his wife and 
children in the bush, and ventured forward to re- 

" I was soon attracted," said Josiah, " by a house 
on the left, between which and a small coasting 
vessel a number of men were passing and repass- 
ing with great activity. Promptly deciding to ap- 
proach them, I drew near; and scarcely had I 
come within hailing distance, when the captain of 
the schooner cried out, " Hallo there, man ! do you 
want to work? 5 ' Yes, Sir,' shouted I. ' Come 
along, come along : I'll give you a shilling an hour.* 
(Sixpence English money.) ' Must get off with this 
wind/ As I came near, he said, observing my 
shortened arms, ' O, you can't work, you're crippled/ 
c Can't I,' said I ; and in a minute I had got hold 
of a bag of corn, and followed the gang in empty- 


ing it into the hold. I took my place in the line 
of labourers next to a coloured man, and soon got 
into conversation with him. l How far is it to 
Canada?' He gave me a peculiar look, and at 
once I saw he knew all. ' Want to go to Canada ? 
Come along with us then. Our captain's a fine 
fellow. We're going to Buffalo.' ' Buffalo ! How 
far is that from Canada ? ' ' Don't you know, man ? 
Just across the river.' I now opened my mind frankly 
to him, and told him about my wife and children. 

* I'll speak to the captain,' said he. He did so ; and 
soon after the captain took me aside, and said, ' The 
Doctor says you want to go to Buffalo with your 
family.' ' Yes, Sir.' * Well, why not go with me ?' 
was his frank reply. ' Doctor says you've got a 
family.' * Yes, Sir.' ' Where do you stop ?' 
4 About a mile back.' c How long have you been 
here ?' ' No time,' I answered, after a moment's 
hesitation. * Come, my good fellow, tell us all 
about it. You're running away, ain't you ?' I 
saw he was a friend, and opened my heart to him. 

* How long will it take you to get ready ? ' ' I'll 
be here in half-an-hour, Sir.' * Well, go along, and 
get them.' Off I started : but, before I had run 
fifty feet, he called me back. ' Stop,' said he, 6 you 
go on getting the grain in. When we get off, I'll 
lay to over opposite that island, and send a boat 
back. There's a lot of regular nigger-catchers in 

n8 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

the town below, and they might suspect, if yoa 
brought your party out of the bush by daylight. 
Let them stay there awhile.' I worked away with 
a will. Soon the two or three hundred bushels of 
corn were aboard, the hatches fastened down, the 
anchor raised, and the sails spread and hoisted. 

" I watched the vessel with interest as she left 
her moorings. Away she went before the free 
breeze. Already she seemed beyond the spot at 
which the captain agreed to lay to, and still she 
flew along. My heart sunk within me. So near 
deliverance, and again to have my hopes blasted : 
again to be cast upon my own feeble resources. I 
felt as if they had been making a mock of my 
misery. The sun had sunk to rest, and the purple 
and gold of the west were fast fading into grey. 
Suddenly, however, as I gazed with weary heart 
and intense anxiety, the schooner swung round into 
the wind, the sails flapped, and she stood motion- 
less. A moment more, and I saw a boat lowered 
from the stern, and with steady stroke make for the 
point on which I stood. I felt then, with intense 
joy, that the hour of my deliverance had come. On 
she came, and in a few moments swept beautifully 
up upon the beach. 

" My black friend and two other sailors jumped 
out, and we started off at once for my wife and 
children. To my horror, they had gone from 


the place where I had left them. I was overpowered 
with the fear that they had been discovered and 
carried off. There was no time to lose, and the 
men told me I would have to go alone. Just at the 
point of despair, however, I stumbled on one of 
the children, and soon discovered the rest. My 
wife, I found, alarmed at my long absence, had 
given up all for lost, and supposed I had fallen into 
the hands of the enemy. When she heard my 
voice mingled with those of the sailors, she thought 
my captors were leading me back to make me dis- 
cover my family ; and in the extremity of her terror 
she had tried to hide herself by plunging deeper 
into the bush. I had hard work to satisfy her. 
Our long habits of concealment and anxiety had 
rendered her suspicious of every one. For a time 
her agitation was great. This, however, was soon 
over, and the kindness of my companions did much 
to facilitate such a result. 

" And now we were off to the boat. It required 
but little time to embark our baggage — one con- 
venience, at least, of possessing nothing. The 
men bent their backs with a will, and headed 
steadily for the light hung at the schooner's mast. 
I was praising God in my soul. Three hearty cheers 
welcomed us as we reached the vessel ; and never 
to my dying day shall I forget the shout of the 
captain. He was a Scotchman. ' Coom up on 


deck, and clop your wings and craw like a rooster ; 
you're a free nigger now as sure as the deevil.' 
Round went the schooner ; the wind plunged into 
her sails as though inoculated with the common 
feeling, and the water, seething and hissing, 
rapidly passed her sides. Man and nature, and 
more than all, I felt, the God of man and nature, 
who breathes charity and love into the heart, and 
maketh the winds His ministers, were with us. 
My happiness, that night, rose at times to positive 
pain. Unnerved by so sudden a change from desti- 
tution and danger to such kindness, and such a 
blessed sense of security, I wept like a child. 

61 The next evening we reached Buffalo ; but it 
was too late to cross the river that night. % You 
see those trees ? ' said the noble-hearted captain 
the next morning, pointing to a group in the dis- 
tance ; * they grow on free soil, and as soon as your 
feet touch that you are a man. I want to see you 
go and be a free man. I am poor myself, and 
have nothing to give you : I only sail the boat for 
wages ; but I'll see you across.' ' Here, Green,' 
said he to a ferryman, ' what will you take this 
man and his family over for? — he's got no money.' 
' Three shillings.' The captain took a dollar out 
of his pocket and gave it me. Never shall I forget 
the spirit in which he spoke. He put his hand 
on my head, and said, ' Be a good fellow, won't 


you? ' I felt streams of emotion running down in 
electric courses from head to foot. l . Yes,* said I, 
'I'll use my freedom well: I'll give my soul to 
God.' He stood waving his hat as we pushed off 
for the opposite shore, God bless him ! God bless 
him eternally ! Amen ! 

" It was the 28th of October, 1830, in the morn- 
Ing, when my feet first touched the Canada shore. 
I threw myself on the ground, rolled in the sand, 
took up handfuls of it, and kissed it rapturously ; 
and I danced around until in the eyes of some 
beholders I passed for a madman, ' He's some 
crazy fellow,' said a Colonel Warren, who happened 
to be there. ' O, no, Master ! Don't you know ? 
I'm free ! I'm free ! I'm free ! ' He burst into a 
shout of laughter. ' Well/ said he ; ' I never knew 
freedom make a man roll in the sand in such a 
fashion ! ' Still, I could not control myself. I 
hugged and kissed my wife and children, and went 
on, no doubt, most extravagantly, until the first 
exuberant burst of feeling was over. None there 
could understand as I did all the fearful depths of 
misery I had left behind me, and from which, 
through God's help and blessing, I was now free 
for ever ! " 

Chapter xi. 


osiah was now a free- 
man. But he was a 
stranger in a strange 
land, and he must 
needs look about him 
for means of .support 
for himself and family. He pro- 
cured a lodging for the first night 
with the remainder of the captain's 
dollar, and then began to cast 
about to obtain employment. In the course of the 
day he heard of a Mr. Hibbard, who was the owner 
of a large farm, and of several tenements which he 
was in the habit of hiring out to labourers. To 
him Josiah repaired, and soon struck a bargain 
with him for employment. He inquired if there 
was any house on the farm in which he and his 
family could take up their abode. " Yes," said Mr. 
Hibbard, and led the way to an old two-story 


shanty, into the lower part of which the pigs ha& 
found their way, and made it their home. Josiah 
and his family speedily expelled these occupants, 
and set about making it fit for a better class of 
tenants. " With the aid of hoe and shovel, hot 
water and a mop, I got the floor into a tolerable 
condition," said he, " but it took until midnight ;, 
and only then did I rest from my labour." 

The next day he brought his family to their new 
home ; and although there was literally nothing 
to receive and welcome them but bare walls and 
floors, they were all in a state of great delight ; for 
it was, with all its defects, the home of the free,. 
and far better than a log cabin with dirt floor 
in the slave-land. He got a quantity of clean 
straw, and by confining it with logs in the corners. 
of the room, and laying it pretty thick, made beds- 
upon which all of them reposed luxuriously after 
their long fatigues. 

But a new trial came which had not been anti- 
cipated. In consequence of the exposures and 
privations they had endured, Josiah's wife and all 
the children fell sick. During the time of their 
flight they had all been sustained by the excitement 
connected with it ; but the reaction came, and a. 
long sickness ensued, from which some of them, 
barely escaped with their lives. 

Josiah, by his attention and industry, gained at 


once the favour and respect of his employer and 
his wife, and soon was in a position to obtain some 
of the comforts of life, the necessaries of fuel and 
food being abundant. He remained with Mr, 
Hibbard three years, working sometimes for wages, 
sometimes on shares, and managed in that time to 
become the possessor of some pigs, a cow, and a 
horse. Thus his condition gradually improved, 
and he felt that his toils and sacrifices for freedom 
had not been in vain. 

He soon began to labour in another vocation. 
A fugitive from Maryland took up his abode in the 
same neighbourhood, and made it known all about 
that Josiah had been a preacher in the slave-land 
from which he had fled. This led to his being 
frequently called upon, not only by the blacks but 
by the white people, " to speak to them on their 
duty, responsibilities, and immortality ; and on 
their obligations to their Master and Saviour, and 
to themselves." " It may seem strange to many," 
said Josiah, " that a man so ignorant as myself, un- 
able to read, and having heard so little as I had of 
religion, natural or revealed, should be able to 
preach acceptably to persons who had enjoyed 
greater advantages than myself: but observation 
upon what passes without, and prayerful reflection 
upon what passes within a man's heart, will some- 
times give him a larger growth in grace than is 


imagined by some devoted adherents of creeds, or 
those self-confident followers of Christ who call Him, 
c Lord, Lord,' but do not the things which He 

Mr. Hibbard was kind enough to send Josiah's 
eldest boy, Tom, to school ; and the boy learned to^ 
read fluently and well. This was a great advantage 
to both : for Josiah used to get his son to read to* 
him much in the Bible, especially on Sunday morn- 
ings ; and thus he was able to commit to memory 
many verses, and even chapters, of Holy Scripture. 
How he learned at length to read himself, I will 
tell in his own words. 

" One beautiful summer Sabbath I rose early,, 
and called Tom to come and read to me.' ' Where- 
shall I read, father?' ' Anywhere, my son,' I an- 
swered, for I knew not how to direct him. He 
opened upon Psalm ciii. ' Bless the Lord, O my 
soul : and all that is within me, bless His holy 
name,' &c. As he read this beautiful outpouring 
of gratitude, which I now heard for the first time, 
my heart melted within me. I recalled in my 
thoughts the whole current of my life ; and as I" 
remembered the dangers and afflictions from which 
the Lord had delivered me, and compared my 
present condition with what it had been, not only 
my heart, but my eyes overflowed, and I could 
neither check nor conceal the emotion which over- 


powered me. The words, ' Bless the Lord, O my 
soul/ with which the Psalm begins and ends, were 
all I needed, or could use, to express the fulness of 
my thankful heart. When he had finished, Tom 
turned to me, and inquired, ' Father, who was 
David V He had observed my emotion, and added, 
* He writes pretty, don't he?' He repeated the 
question ; but it was one I was unable to answer. 
I had never heard of David, but could not bear to 
acknowledge my ignorance to my own child. So 
I answered evasively. ' He was a man of God, my 
son.' ' I suppose so,* said he ; ' but I want to 
know something more about him. Where did he 
live ? What did he do ?' As he went on question- 
ing me, I saw it was in vain to attempt to escape, 
and so I told him frankly I did not know. ' Why, 
father,' said he, ' can't you read ?' This was a 
worse question than the other, and if I had any 
pride in me at the moment it took it all out of me 
pretty quick. It was a direct question, and must 
have a direct answer ; so I told him at once I could 
not. ' Why not V said he. ' Because I never had 
an opportunity to learn, nor anybody to teach me.' 
'Well, you can learn now, father.' ' No, my son, 
I am too old, and have not time enough. I must 
work all day, or you would not have enough to eat 
or wear.' ' Then you might do it at night.' ' But 
still there is nobody to teach me. I can't afford to 



pay anybody for it, and, of course, no one can do 
it for nothing.' * Why, father, VII teach you. I 
can do it, I know. And then you'll know 
much more that you can talk better, and preach 

" I was greatly moved by this conversation with 
Tom. It was no slight mortification to think of 
-.structed by a child twelve years old. Yet 
a true desire to learn, for the good it would do 

] mind, conquered the shame, and I agreed to 
try. But I could not preach that day; being too 
much wrought upon by the conversation with Tom. 
I passed the Sunday in solitary reflection in the 
woods. I was too much engrossed by my thoughts 
to return home to dinner, and I spent the w. 
day in meditation and prayer. I felt that I 
profoundly ignorant, and that I ought to use every 
opportunity of improving my mind. I began at 

ie to take lessons of Tom, and followed it ip 
every evening by the light of a pine knot, or some 
:ory bark : which was the only light I could 
afford to use. Weeks passed, and my progress was 
slow that poor Tom was almost discouraged. 
He used to drop asleep sometimes : and then he 
would whine over my dulness, till I began to fear 
that my age, the daily fatigue, and the dim 1: 

uld be effectual preventives of my ever acquiring 
the art of reading. But Tom's patience and my 



perseverance conquered at last, and in the course 
of the winter I did really learn to read a little." 

The ability to read became very useful to Josiah, 
and was diligently improved. He read with avidity 
all the books he could obtain by borrowing ; but he 
delighted especially in the Bible. It caused him to 
comprehend better the depth of ignorance in which 
he had been plunged, and to feel more deeply the 
oppression under which he had toiled and groaned. 
It also made him more anxious than before to do 
something for the rescue and elevation of those 
who were suffering the same evils he had endured 
so long, and render help to those who, like himself, 
had fled from the house of bondage. 

After three years spent with Mr. Hibbard, Josiah 
took service with a Mr. Risely, a man possessing 
more elevation of mind and better 'abilities than 
his first employer. Here he found himself sur- 
rounded by many hundreds of free coloured persons 
who had also escaped from the Southern States. 
Josiah soon perceived that so much of the ignorance 
and inertness engendered by slavery yet clung to 
these people, that they were not making the best 
of their condition for the benefit of themselves and 
their families, and it became a great object with 
him to awaken them to a perception of the advan- 
tages that were within their reach ; so that, instead 
of continuing in perpetuity to work for hire upon 


the lands of others, they might become independent 
proprietors themselves. 

Mr. Risely assented to the justice of Josiah's 
views, and permitted him to call meetings on his 
farm, of those who were known to be the most 
intelligent among the blacks, that the subject might 
be considered and discussed among them. The 
result was, that some ten or twelve of them agreed 
to invest their earnings in land which they could 
call their own, where every tree they felled, and 
every bushel of corn they raised, would be for 
themselves and their families ; in other words, 
where they could secure all the profits of their own 

After due deliberation, Josiah was deputed to 
explore the country on behalf of his fellow fugitives, 
and find a place eligible for the proposed settlement. 
He says, " I set out, accordingly, in the autumn of 
1834, and travelled on foot all over the extensive 
region between Lakes Ontario, Erie, and Huron. 
When I came to the territory east of Lake St. Clair 
and Detroit river, I was strongly impressed with 
its fertility, its convenience, and, indeed, its general 
superiority for our purposes to any other spot I had 
seen. I determined that, as far as I was concerned, 
this should be the place ; and so reported to my 
associates when I returned home. They were 
wisely cautious, however, and sent me off again in 

k 2 


the summer, that I might see it at a different season 
of the year, and so be better able to judge aright of 
its advantages. I found no reason from this 
additional survey to change my opinion ; but on 
going further towards the head of Lake Erie, I 
discovered an extensive tract of Government land^ 
which for some years had been granted to a 
Mr. M'Cormick upon certain conditions, and which 
he had rented out to settlers. This land, being- 
already cleared to some extent, offered advantages 
for the immediate raising of crops, which were not 
to be overlooked by persons whose resources were 
so limited as ours. We determined to go there 
first, for a time, and with the proceeds of our labour 
there to make our purchases at the other place ; 
which was afterwards called Dawn. This plan was 
adopted, and some dozen or more of us settled upon 
these lands the following spring, and accumulated 
something towards our intended purchases by the 
crops of wheat and tobacco we were able to raise. 

" I discovered, before long, that M'Cormick had 
not complied with the conditions of his grant, and 
was not therefore entitled to exact rent from the 
settlers. I was advised by Sir John Cockburn, with 
whom I communicated, to appeal to the legislature. 
This I did ; and we were freed from all rent there- 
after so long as we remained on the land. We 
continued in this position six or seven years, with 


the purpose still in our minds of purchasing the 
land at Dawn, as soon as it was in our power to 
raise the means." 

This purpose was ultimately carried out. Josiah 
became acquainted with a Congregational Mis- 
sionary, who greatly assisted him in the accomplish- 
ment of his plans. This gentleman's name was 
Wilson, and to him the fugitives who had settled 
in that vicinity became largely indebted, for the 
.kind and judicious counsel which he afforded to 
them. He wrote on Josiah's behalf to a benevolent 
member of the Society of Friends, a Mr. Fuller, 
residing near New York ; well known as one who 
took a lively interest in the welfare of the coloured 
people who had escaped to Canada. This gentleman 
was just about to visit England when the matter 
was brought to his notice ; and while there he used 
his influence with members of the Society of Friends, 
in various parts of the country, on behalf of these 
fugitives from slavery, and obtained fifteen hundred 
dollars in subscriptions for the benefit of Josiah and 
his fellow settlers. When this was made known 
to them a convention was called, to consider and 
decide upon the most advantageous method of 
appropriating the money, so as to promote by its 
use the benefit of the greatest number of the popu- 
lation of Upper Canada. 

" I urged the appropriation of this money," said 


Josiah, "to the establishment of a manual labour 
school, where our children could be taught those 
elements of knowledge which are usually the 
occupations of a grammar school ; and where the 
boys could be taught, in addition, the practice of 
some mechanic art, and the girls could also be in- 
structed in those domestic arts which are the proper 
occupation and ornament of the sex. Such an 
establishment would train those who would after- 
wards be able to instruct others, and we should 
thus gradually become independent of the whites 
for our intellectual progress, as we might be also 
for our physical prosperity. This was the more 
necessary as, in some districts, owing to the 
prejudices of the inhabitants, the children of the 
blacks were not allowed to share the advantages of 
the common school. This plan was therefore 
unanimously adopted, and myself and two others 
were appointed to select the site for the proposed 
establishment. After traversing the country again 
for some months, we could find no place more 
suitable than that which I had had my eye upon for 
several years as offering great advantages for a 
permanent settlement ; and it was resolved there- 
fore to take up the land at Dawn, which is the place 
now called Chatham." 

A considerable run of land was bought, and the 
money appropriated in the manner resolved upon ; 


and the place soon became the centre of a large 
population of the fugitive slaves from the Southern 
States. In 1842 Josiah removed thither with his 
family, having purchased a considerable tract of the 
land on his own account. The school was perma- 
nently fixed there ; and many other settlements rose 
around it, scattered over a territory several hundred 
miles in extent, numbering in 1858 upwards of 
twenty thousand inhabitants ; all of whom had fled 
from the slave-land. " We look to the school,'* 
said Josiah, " and the possession of landed property 
by individuals, as two great means of securing the 
elevation of our oppressed and degraded race to a 
participation in the blessings, as they have hitherto 
been doomed to share only the miseries and vices, 
of civilization. " 

Amongst the projects conceived and carried out 
by Josiah for the benefit of this coloured com- 
munity, in which he had become a kind of patri- 
arch and ruler, was the establishment of a saw- 
mill. He found the land on which they had settled 
covered with a forest of beautiful and noble trees, 
some of them of the most valuable kind, such as 
black walnut, white wood, &c. The people were 
accustomed to cut down these fine trees indiscrimi- 
nately, and burn them on the ground, simply to get 
rid of them, that they might have the use of the 
cleared land for cultivation. Josiah was distressed 


josiah: the maimed fugitive, 

to see such waste of valuable material, and longed 
to devise some means of converting this abundant 
natural wealth into money, so as to assist in im- 
proving* the condition of the people. Full of this 
project, he took a journey through the State of 
New York and through New England, where he 
found that such logs as abounded in Canada, instead 
of being burnt, were sawed into planks and boards, 
and commanded large prices ; and he was rejoiced 
to learn that he could find a ready market for any 
amount of the lumber which was being so ignorantly 
and recklessly thrown away. 

He made known his views and feelings to several 
philanthropic gentlemen with whom he met in Eos- 



ton and elsewhere, who saw the reasonableness of 
his plans, and kindly furnished him with the means 
of starting what proved to be a profitable enter- 
prise. He was thus enabled on his return to put 
up a substantial saw-mill, and stock it with the 
requisite machinery; and he soon had the pleasure 
of seeing it in successful operation. " The mill," 
he said, " was not my own property, but belonged 
to an association, which established an excellent 
manual labour school, where many children of both 
sexes have been educated. The school was well 
attended from the first by coloured children, and 
also by whites and some Indians." 

Josiah made frequent journeys to the United 
States to dispose of the lumber prepared at the 
saw-mill, and met with several adventures which 
space does not allow me to narrate. On one occa- 
sion, he went to pay the duties on eighty thou- 
sand feet of prime black walnut lumber, which he 
had disposed of at Boston for forty-five dollars per 
thousand. The atrocious Fugitive- slave Law had 
just been passed in the States, which made it a 
highly penal offence for any person to harbour, or 
render aid to, a fugitive slave. " When the cus- 
tom-house official presented his bill to me for the 
duties on my lumber," said Josiah, " I jokingly 
remarked to him that perhaps he would render him- 
self liable to trouble if he should have dealings 


with a fugitive slave ; and if so, I would relieve him 
of the trouble of taking my money. ' Are you a 
fugitive slave, Sir?' 'Yes, Sir,' said I ; 'and perhaps 
you had better not have any dealings with me.' ' I 
have nothing to do with that,' said the official ; 
c there is your bill : you have acted like a man, and 
I deal with you as a man.' The bystanders en- 
joyed the scene, and I paid him the money and 
took my departure." 

All this time he was acting as the pastor and 
spiritual adviser of the people by whom he was 
surrounded, preaching to them continually on the 
Sabbath, and often on the week evenings, in the 
humble places of worship which they built for 
themselves. And at the same time he was dili- 
gently cultivating his own mind, and devoting him- 
self to the acquisition of all kinds of useful know- 
ledge within his reach. Acquiring the art of read- 
ing in the humble manner already described, at the 
hands of his own child, he had applied himself to 
the use of it with the utmost eagerness. It had 
opened to him, as it were, a new world, and he 
revelled in the enjoyment which it afforded him. 
But most of all he prized this new acquisition for 
the increased ability and power with which it 
enabled him to minister the word of life to the 
ignorant multitudes around him. And the Lord 
owned his efforts, and gave him many souls as the 
fruit of his toil. 

Chapter xii. 


r 'FTER he had tasted 
the blessings of free- 
dom, Josiah's mind 
often reverted to the 
unhappy ones who 
were still groaning in captivity ;.. 
and he felt it to be his duty to set 
free as many as he could from 
the horrors and wrongs of 
slavery. He thought that manjr 
might make their escape as he. 
had done, if they had some one to advise them how 
to proceed. Prompted by these feelings, he made 
more than one visit to the slave-land, at the risk of 
his liberty and life, that he might render help to his 
enslaved and afflicted brethren. 

One day he was preaching to a large number of" 
people at Fort Erie, and many coloured people were 
present. In the course of his remarks, he endea- 
voured to impress upon them the obligations they 

140 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

were under — first to God for their own deliverance, 
and secondly to their fellow men — to do all that was 
in their power to bring others out of bondage. In 
the congregation there was a man named James 
Lightwood, who, being of an active temperament, 
had obtained his own freedom by fleeing to Canada. 
But he had never thought of his family and friends 
whom he had left behind, so as to do anything to 
promote their deliverance, until the time that he 
heard Josiah speaking on the subject ; although he 
had been free for five years. But that day the sub- 
ject was brought home to his heart, and he felt how 
remiss and selfish he had been. When the service 
was concluded, he sought an interview with Josiah, 
and an arrangement was made for further conversa- 
tion upon the matter the following week. At the 
appointed time he came, and then informed Josiah 
where he had come from and to whom he had 
belonged : and that he had left behind a dear father 
and mother, three sisters, and four brothers. They 
were living on a plantation near the city of Mays- 
ville, on the Ohio River. He had never, he said, seen 
his duty towards them to be so clear and unmistak- 
able as he felt it to be then ; and was anxious that 
some means should be devised for their early release 
from slavery. During the short period of his free- 
dom he had accumulated some little property, the 
-whole of which he professed himself willing to 


devote to this object. He had not, he said, had any 
rest since the subject had been brought by Josiah's. 
preaching before his mind. 

Josiah was not able, just then, to devise any likely 
plan to fulfil Lightwood's desire ; but in a few days 
the man came back again, and the agony which he 
seemed to endure on account of his enslaved kin- 
dred touched his friend's heart, so that he deter- 
mined to do all in his power to help the poor fellow 
in this dangerous undertaking. After mature con- 
sideration, Josiah came to the conclusion that the 
most likely way to insure success was to make the 
enterprise his own, and go by himself to the rescue. 
Prompt to act when the thing was decided upon, 
Josiah left his own family in the hands of God, to 
whose care he commended them in prayer, and then 
set out on foot a journey of more than four hun- 
dred miles. " But the Lord," he said," furnished 
me with strength for the work I had entered upon.' 
He passed through the States of New York, Penn- 
sylvania, and Ohio. Then, crossing the Ohio 
River, he entered the slave-land of Kentucky ; and 
following the directions with which he had been 
furnished, he made his way to the place he was 
bound to, and opened a communication with those 
whose deliverance he had come to promote. He 
was an entire stranger to them, but he had brought 
with him a token by which they would readily 


miderstand that he came from their escaped rela- 
tive : and it was immediately recognised. But he 
found that the parents were far advanced in age, so 
that they could not bear the fatigue and privation 
consequent upon such a journey as that which their 
absent son proposed for them, and they must there- 
fore make up their minds to finish their lives in the 
land of bondage. 

His sisters were the mothers of small children, 
too numerous and feeble for such an undertaking. 
The four brothers were young men and strong ; but 
the thought of leaving father and mother and sisters 
was too painful for them. The whole thing had 
come upon them so suddenly, and they were so 
apprehensive that the grief and agitation of the 
relatives they would have to leave behind would 
betray them, that they declined making the attempt 
at that time. If Josiah would come back for them 
the following year, they would prepare themselves, 
and be ready to make an attempt to be free. To 
this he consented, and then bade them all a loving 

Like Penn and Venables, in the time of Cromwell, 
who, failing in their expedition against Haiti, 
captured Jamaica, Josiah would not return home 
empty-handed, although for the present this expedi- 
tion had failed. He knew where there were some 
whose relations had made good their escape to 


Canada, and who were themselves panting to be free ; 
only wanting a leader to encourage them, and direct 
their movements. Travelling by night, and resting 
in the woods by day, Josiah directed his footsteps 
to the place he had heard of. He at length arrived 
at his destination in Bourbon County, and soon 
found out those whom he had come to seek. It 
was a risky undertaking ; for had he been discovered 
his life would scarcely have been safe ; and the very 
least punishment he could expect would be the 
fearful torture of the whip, and to be sold into the 
horrible slavery of the South. But he trusted in 
that kind Providence that had favoured him so 
highly, and took care to keep himself from the 
knowledge of all the slaves who were not to be 

Here he found no less than thirty slaves who at 
once responded to and accepted his offer to be their 
guide and helper, and who were resolved to free 
themselves from the iron bondage under which 
they had been groaning all their lives. Sometime 
was occupied in making the needful- preparations ; 
but at length, on a Saturday night, they started. 
The slaves, especially those in the border states, 
possessed among themselves the knowledge of a 
certain composition which, put into their shoes, 
had the effect of destroying the scent, so that the 
dogs of the slave-hunters could not follow them 


with the same certainty as they could those who 
were not provided with it. Furnished with this, 
they commenced their journey, and plunged into 
the woods, under the benign light of the North Star, 
which had guided so many to the land where to 
tread the soil was to be free. " The agony of 
parting," said Josiah, " can be better conceived than 
described; as in their case husbands were leaving 
their wives, mothers their children, and children 
their parents. It may appear incredible at first 
sight that they could make up their minds to do 
this ; but when we consider that at any time they 
were liable to be separated by being sold to what 
are termed nigger-traders, and the almost certainty 
that this fate awaited them in many cases sooner 
or later, it is not surprising that all who were con- 
cerned should agree to this voluntary parting." 

The fugitives, keeping to the woods, or concealed 
in the swamps by day, and travelling cautiously at 
night, succeeded in getting across the Ohio River 
in safety ; and after a fatiguing journey made their 
way to Cincinnati. This being a principal depot 
of "The Underground Railroad," they found here 
shelter, concealment, and help. After renewing 
their strength by a long rest, and being put on their 
way a good long stage in waggons, they made for 
Richmond, in the state of Indiana. Josiah knew 
this to be a town settled by Quakers, and where 


fugitives always received the help they required. 
In due time, always concealed in the bush by day , 
and urging on their way under the favouring shelter 
of the night, they arrived in safety at the Quaker 
town. " There, " said Josiah, " we found friends 
indeed, who kindly ministered to our wants, washed 
and dressed our blistered feet, and helped us on our 
way without loss of time." After a toilsome and 
difficult journey of more than two weeks, the 
fugitives reached Toledo, then a skeleton town on 
the south-western shore of Lake Erie, since enlarged 
into an important city. There kind friends procured 
for them the means of reaching the friendly shores 
of Canada, and the whole party arrived safely in 
the land of the free. Having seen them settled in 
some employment that would afford them the means 
of more comfortable support than they had ever 
known before, Josiah bade them farewell, leaving 
them overwhelmed with gratitude to him, who, 
under God, had been their benefactor and best friend. 
It was a great happiness to him to be thus made 
the instrument of freeing such a number of his 
fellow creatures from the wrongs and oppressions 
of slavery. 

The following autumn Josiah prepared to fulfil 
the promise he had made to restore the family of 
the Lightwoods, or as many of them as he could, to 
liberty. In the meanwhile he was working on his 



farm, assisted by his family. When the time 
arrived, he started on his long journey to Kentucky. 
" On my way," he said, " that strange occurrence 
happened, called ■ the great meteoric shower.' The 
heavens seemed breaking up into streaks of light 
and falling stars. I reached Lancaster, in the 
State of Ohio, about three o'clock in the morning, 
and found the village aroused, the bells ringing, and 
the people terribly excited, exclaiming, ' The day of 
judgment is come ! ' I thought, ■ Perhaps it is so,' 
but felt that I was in the right business, and doing 
my Master's work, in attempting to relieve the 
suffering ; so I walked calmly on through the 
village, leaving the crowd of terrified people behind. 
The stars continued to fall till the light of the sun 

When he arrived at a place called Portsmouth, 
in Ohio, he was in some danger of being detected 
and seized. There were a number of Kentuckians 
in the place, who were quite ready to suspect any 
coloured man if they saw anything unusual about 
him. He had to wait some hours in Portsmouth 
for the steamboat in which he intended to go down 
the river. Had he been travelling in the opposite 
direction, no doubt these men would have seized 
him as a runaway ; but, although they looked upon 
him with an evil eye, the fact that he was travelling 
towards the slave-land, and not from it, somewhat 


allayed their suspicions. To avoid being incon- 
veniently questioned, Josiah procured some dried 
leaves, put them in a cloth, and bound them round 
his face nearly to the eyes, as if he were suffering 
from neuralgic pains in his face and head. He 
was accosted by several persons, who seemed 
anxious to get some particulars from him as to who 
he was, where he was going, and to whom he be- 
longed. In answer to all their inquiries he merely 
shook his head, and mumbled out some indistinct 
sounds. By this artifice he avoided unpleasant 
consequences until the boat arrived ; when he got 
on board, and proceeded down the river, landing at 
Maysville, Kentucky, in the night, when it was not 
difficult to conceal himself from observation in 
the bush. 

It appeared to Josiah a wonderful providence 
that one of the first persons he met, as he stepped 
ashore, was James Lightwood, one of the party he 
had come to assist, and brother to his friend in 
Canada. This happy meeting greatly facilitated 
his object, and rendered it easy for him to renew 
his communications with the family without incur- 
ring any risk. Their plan of escape was speedily 
arranged ; and they agreed to put it in execution 
on the following Saturday night. This night in 
particular was chosen because, not having to labour 
on the following day, they would not be missed until 

L 2 


the time came for their appearance in the field on* 
Monday morning. They hoped by that time to be 
some eighty or a hundred miles a. way ; as they had 
resolved to travel day and night at the beginning 
of their journey, taking only the rest absolutely 
necessary ; and so put as great a distance as pos- 
sible between themselves and their pursuers, who 
would soon be on their track. 

For fear of being detected, the fugitives did not 
bid either father or mother farewell, or entrust 
them with the secret of their intended flight ; but 
at the appointed time quietly stole away from the 
plantation. It was not far to the river ; and, 
arrived there, they took the liberty of appropriating 
a skiff and oars, which they found lying close at 
hand, and then with all speed made their way down 
the river. It was not the shortest way, but it was 
the surest ; as no dogs could follow their track in 
the water. It was nearly seventy miles to Cincin- 
nati ; but they hoped, by using extraordinary 
exertion, to reach that city before daylight. This 
hope was frustrated by their boat, which was old 
and comparatively worthless, becoming suddenly 
leaky; and it was with some difficulty they got 
near to the shore before the crazy vessel filled and 
sank. They soon found another boat, and took 
possession of it; but having been thus hindered, 
the day broke upon them when they were yet some 



smites from Cincinnati; and they were compelled 
to abandon the boat, and betake them to the dense 
forest that lined the shore, for fear of being appre- 
hended. The rest of the journey had therefore to 
he accomplished on foot. 


Suddenly, as they were carefully pursuing their 
way through the forest, they came upon the Miami 
river, which barred their further progress. They 
could not reach the city without crossing it ; and 
they were afraid to ask for the use of a boat, lest it 
should lead to their detection and apprehension. 
41 We went first up and then down the river," said 


Josiah, " trying to find a convenient fording place, 
but failed. I then said to my company, * Boys, let 
us go up the river and try again.' We started, and 
after going about a mile, we saw a cow coming 
out of a wood and going to the river, as if she in- 
tended to drink. Then said I, ' Boys, let us go 
and see what that cow is about ; it may be that 
she will tell us some news.' I said this jocularly, 
in order to cheer them up. One of them replied, in 
rather a peevish way, * O, that cow can't talk.' I 
urged them again to come on, and they followed 
me. The cow remained until we approached with- 
in a rod or two of where she was standing ; she 
then walked deliberately into the river, and went 
straight across without swimming ; which caused 
me to remark, * The Lord sent that cow to show us 
where to cross the river !' This has always seemed 
to me a very wonderful incident." 

Although it was cold and snowing hard at the 
time, the party was much heated by the exertions 
they had made, and, saturated with perspiration, 
some of them did not much like entering the icy 
river in this state ; but it was a matter of life and 
death with them to proceed. Josiah therefore ad- 
vanced, and the others reluctantly followed. But 
when they reached the middle of the river, one of 
the young Lightwoods, the youngest of the party, 
was seized with cramp and violent contraction of 


the limbs, and was in great danger of drowning. 
The others rushed to his aid, rescued and bore him 
safely to the opposite shore, where, by friction, 
they recovered him so as to enable them to con- 
tinue their journey. About midday they arrived 
and found shelter in the city of Cincinnati, where 
many benevolent Friends were ready to speed them 
on their way. 

Having no doubt that a diligent search would 
be made for them there, as soon as their absence 
should be discovered, at an early hour the follow- 
ing morning they set off, and continued their 
journey through mud, rain, and snow, towards 
Canada. By daylight they kept as much as possible 
to the woods, going round about considerably that 
they might get among the Quakers, from whom 
they were sure of obtaining all the help they needed. 
During their struggle through the woods, the lad 
who had taken a violent chill in crossing the Miami 
river became alarmingly ill, and they were com- 
pelled to carry him on their backs. Finding this 
method of conveyance equally inconvenient to the 
patient and themselves, they constructed a litter, 
stripping themselves of all the clothing they could 
possibly spare to render it as soft and easy as they 
could make it. In this way, pushing through the 
swamps and forests, they got at length into the 
State of Indiana. But the sufferer continued to 


get worse, and it appeared both to him and his 
companions that death would soon release him 
from his sufferings. 

He begged to be left in some secluded spot to 
die alone, as he feared that the delay to the party, 
caused by their attendance upon him, would lead 
to their capture. They refused this request for 
some time ; but, at length, reluctantly came to the 
conclusion that their own safety required them to 
leave him, as there appeared to be no hope of his 
recovery; and the poor fellow expressed his readi- 
ness to meet the last struggle, trusting in Christ, 
and in the full hope of eternal life. It was a sad part- 
ing, and with difficulty they tore themselves away. 

They had not gone far when they felt that they 
could not thus leave a fellow-creature to perish, in 
all probability by the wolves of the forest. They 
accordingly retraced their steps, and found the poor 
fellow apparently dying, but earnestly praying for 
the mercy of God. They resumed their march 
through the woods, bearing the sick one with them 
as best they could. After proceeding in this way 
for some time, they saw at some distance on the road 
which was near to them, and going in the same 
direction, a waggon moving slowly, as if it were 
heavily laden. Josiah carefully approached it, 
determined to ascertain if some aid could not be 
obtained of the driver for their sick companion. 


Leaving the rest of the party, Josiah made a con- 
siderable detour, and, crossing a fence, came out 
into the road at a turn where he could not be seen. 
He then advanced to meet the waggon, appearing 
as if he were travelling in an opposite direction to 
that which the waggon was taking. When he 
came up with the driver, Josiah bade him " Good 
day." Great was the joy of Josiah when he 
responded, " Where is thee going ? " for he knew at 
once that he had fallen in with a Quaker, and was 
sure that he should not ask in vain for help. He 
well knew that when he met with one of this class 
he met with a friend of the fugitive. Without any 
hesitation he replied to the inquiry, " I am going 
to Canada." An explanation followed, and Josiah 
told the Friend about the party not far off in the 
woods, and of the apparently dying youth. The 
good man immediately stopped his horses, and 
expressed his readiness to afford all the assistance 
in his power. 

They went together immediately to the place 
where Josiah had left his companions ; and when 
the Quaker saw the suffering youth he was moved 
to tears. His waggon was laden with produce, 
which he was conveying to a distant market for 
sale ; but, without delay, he had the patient lifted 
in, and turning his horses' heads in the direction 
from which he had come, urged them on towards 


his home. The kind and hearty reception accorded 
to the whole party by the Quaker family overjoyed 
their hearts. But no time was to be lost. They 
were yet in danger of being followed and captured 
by the slave-hunters, and they must proceed. It 
was arranged that the sick youth should be left in 
the kind hands of the Quaker family, to be nursed 
into health ; and having rested for a night they 
continued their journey, supplied by the bounty of 
the Friends with a sack of biscuits and a joint of 
meat, to sustain them on their way. 

They now ventured to travel by the road, and 
after a while fell in with a white man, who was 
alone and travelling in the same direction. Entering 
into conversation with him, they discovered that 
he was from the South, where he had used a con- 
siderable degree of violence in resisting the cruelty 
of some slave-holders ; and he was now, for his 
own safety, fleeing from the slave-land. This ren- 
contre turned out to be of great service to the 
party, who regarded it as a gracious interposition 
of Providence in their behalf, as the wayfarer 
became instrumental in saving them from the 
hands of the slave-hunters, who were now fully on 
their track. 

They had arrived within forty miles of Lake 
Erie, which lay between them and the land of pro- 
mise to which they were bound. Anxious to press 


with their feet the soil of freedom, they resolved to 
travel all night, in order to reach it early. Just as 
the day was breaking, they came to a small way- 
side tavern close to the lake, where they rested, 
and their white companion ordered breakfast for 
six ; that being the number to which they were 
reduced by leaving their companion behind with 
the Quakers. While the meal was in course of 
preparation, the whole party, overcome with the 
fatigue of walking all night, fell asleep. "Just as. 
our breakfast was ready," said Josiah, "whilst only 
half awake, an impression came powerfully on my 
mind that danger was nigh, and that we must at 
once leave the house. I immediately roused my 
companions, and told them how I felt, and urged 
them to follow me, which they were very unwilling 
to do. But having promised at the outset to sub- 
mit to my authority and follow my guidance, they 
at length complied, and we retired to a yard at the. 
side of the house. 

"A few minutes afterwards, while we were en- 
gaged in washing ourselves with the snow, which, 
was now a foot deep, we heard the trampling of 
horses in the distance, and were at once warned of 
the necessity of secreting ourselves, as the riders, 
were not at all likely to be friends. We crept into 
and lay beneath a pile of bushes which happened 
to be lying close at hand, and which permitted us. 

:i56 josjah: the maimed fugitive. 

to have a view of the road, while we were unseen. 
Presently several horsemen rode up hastily, coming 
to a dead stop at the door of the house, and com- 
rmenced to make inquiries, which clearly indicated 
their object. My companions at a glance recog- 
nised them as parties in pursuit of us, and whis- 
pered their names to me. It was a critical moment, 
;and our hearts beat almost audibly as we cowered 
beneath the bush, and lay still as death. Had we 
been in the house, we should inevitably have fallen 
into the hands of our foes, who, we could perceive, 
were all of them well armed, 

" Our white friend advanced to the door as soon as 
the horsemen rode up, requesting the landlord to stand 
aside, and kept full possession of the doorway. He 
was interrogated by the slave-hunters whether he 
had seen any Negroes pass that way. He said he 
thought he had. Their number was demanded ; 
and the querists were told " About six," and that 
they were proceeding, he thought, in the direction 
of Detroit, and could only be some few miles ahead. 
The pursuers immediately put spurs to their horses 
and galloped off, and happily we saw them no more. 
.1 cannot express the thankfulness we all felt for 
;this wonderful providential deliverance. " 

Providence still favoured them. As soon as they 
thought it safe to venture into the house, they 
entered, and disposed of the breakfast awaiting 


them. By this time the landlord understood their' 
true character, and the object they had in view.. 
He had no sympathy with slavery and slave- 
hunters; and at once offered, on reasonable terms, 
to put the whole party across the lake in a boat of 
which he was the owner. They were devoutly 
thankful for the offer, and promptly accepted it. 
It was the one thing they wanted. The little bark 
was soon afloat with her anxious freight: her 
white sail lay to the wind, and the happy fugitives 
were gliding rapidly across the smooth shining 
water, with the land of liberty full in their view. 
" Words," said Josiah, " cannot express the feelings 
which my companions experienced as they neared- 
the shore. Their hearts swelled with irrepressible 
joy, as they stood upon the seats ready eagerly to 
spring forward and touch the soil of the freeman.. 
And when they reached the shore, they danced,, 
and shouted, and wept for joy, and fell down and 
kissed the earth on which they first stepped, no* 
longer the enslaved, but the free." 

Under the tender nursing of the kind Quaker 
family who had taken charge of him, the youth they 
left behind soon regained his health, and rejoined 
his relatives in Canada robust and vigorous. And 
more than this, the owner of the Lightwoods, a Mr. 
Frank Taylor, not very long after his fruitless pursuit 
of his runaway slaves, became very ill, and for some 


time lay at the gate of death. During this visita- 
tion his thoughts troubled him, especially concern- 
ing the Lightwood family, and their separation from 
■each other. He had failed to bring back the fugitives 
to the relations they had been compelled to leave 
behind, and to slavery ; and at length conscience 
brought him to the conclusion that he ought not 
to keep the husbands and wives, and parents and 
children, apart for his own profit ; and he therefore 
resolved to set free the remainder of the family. 
Thus, in the good providence of God, they were all 
brought together again, a truly happy family. They 
settled in Canada, and were all well and prosperous 
when these facts were brought to my knowledge. 

These were not the only journeys to the slave- 
land that Josiah undertook for the deliverance of 
his suffering brethren there. Many times he in 
this manner risked his own liberty and life for the 
benefit of others ; and the blessing of many who 
were ready to perish came upon him. " It is one 
of the greatest sources of my happiness to know," 
remarked this devoted benefactor of his race, "that 
by my numerous visits to the slave states, I have 
been instrumental in delivering one hundred and 
eighteen human beings out of the cruel and merciless 
grasp of the slave-holder."* Is not this true 

• Amongst those who fled from slavery, and found security 
and prosperity in Canada, was the humble friend who, at the 


heroism ? Here we have a man, constrained by the 
love of God, and the love of his fellow-creatures, to 
put himself and all that is dear to an intelligent 
mind in jeopardy that he may relieve and save the 
suffering, open the prison door to the captive, and 
let the oppressed go free ! Will not such an one as 
Josiah Henson appear, in the great day, a hero of 
a truer and higher type than the Alexanders, the 
Csesars, and the Napoleons, whose courage and 
daring were exercised only to inflict an untold 
amount of human suffering, and deluge the world 
with blood ? 

beginning of their flight, put Josiah and his family in a skiff 
across the Ohio river. 

Chapter xiii. 


osiah was now settled with 
his family around him at 
Dawn, since better known 
as Chatham, in Upper 
Canada. He was the owner 
of a prosperous farm, well 
stocked with horses, cows, 
sheep, and pigs, and sur- 
rounded by thousands who, 
like himself, had made their 
escape from the slave-land. 
He continued to exercise his 
preaching gifts, directing many wanderers to Christ, 
and diffusing the blessings of the Gospel amongst 
a people who had been shut up in darkness, and 
debased both in thought and habit under the 
influence of slavery. To these he was a kind 
benefactor, helping them to acquire and settle 
comfortably on their own quiet homesteads, where 
they could, by prudent care and industry, provide 
a bountiful subsistence for their families, and pro- 




moting among them the institutions of civilization 
and religion. By all the whites who knew him he 
was greatly respected ; and amongst the coloured 
race he was looked up to with a feeling akin tp 

Owing to some mismanagement on the part of 
the trustees, the manual-labour school, which 
Josiah had been chiefly instrumental in founding, 
and the farm and mill belonging to it, had become 
involved in debt. After much consideration and 
discussion amongst those interested in the manage- 
ment of the concern, in which Josiah took an active 
part, it was determined to place the farm and saw- 
mill under the separate care of a competent 
manager, and the school and farm under the 
direction of another person ; an arrangement which 
immediately proved so far beneficial that the further 
accumulation of pecuniary liability was prevented. 
The school was placed in approved hands, and 
Josiah himself, in conjunction with a well-tried 
friend, undertook to conduct the business of the 
mill, and to do the best he could to relieve the 
concern from its pecuniary embarrassment. 

Before he consented to assume any responsibility 
of this kind, he was careful to secure the co-opera- 
tion of his friend, Mr. Peter B. Smith. He had, 
in his own mind, formed his plans, which however 
he took care to keep to himself until all the necessary 

M 2 

164 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

arrangements were concluded. This was done irr 
the year 1850, after the lapse of some months spent 
in mutual counsel and debate. Then Josiah 
revealed the secret project he had been pondering,, 
very much to the astonishment of his compeers. 
It was no less than to take a voyage to England, 
and gain what help he could from those who took 
an interest in the slave, and were friendly to 
emancipation. The World's Great Industrial Fair,, 
to be held in London, under the auspices of the 
Queen and Prince Consort, was then a subject that 
engrossed the attention and conversation of the 
whole civilized world. Josiah heard and read of it,. 
and possessed himself of all the information he 
could gain as to the nature and object of the 
Exhibition. There were upon the farm pertaining 
to the manual-labour school a large number of fine 
trees of black walnut, suited for ornamental use. 
These Josiah thought might be turned to good 
account on the European side of the Atlantic. He 
resolved, therefore, to select some of the finest 
specimens of this timber, have them carefully sawed 
into boards at the mill, and exhibit them at the 
World's Fair: which, he reasonably supposed, 
might prepare the way for the sale of a considerable 
quantity of the black walnut lumber in England 
and on the European continent. 

This scheme was approved and acted upon- 


Some magnificent trees, the growth of centuries* 
were cut down and conveyed to the mill ; where, 
under Josiah's own direction and oversight, they 
were cut into thick boards, and carefully cleaned 
and prepared for exportation. Both for their size 
and exquisite grain they were samples of great 
beauty ; and Josiah was proud to exhibit them, as 
coming from the adopted home of the fugitive 
slaves of America, who had found shelter and pro- 
tection beneath the shadow of the British flag. 

Josiah was well known in Boston to many of the 
principal merchants of that emporium of commerce* 
as well as to the ministers of religion of different 
denominations ; and he found no difficulty in 
obtaining from them letters of introduction to 
leading men connected with the Anti- Slavery 
Society in England. Also by ministers, judges, 
and statesmen of Canada who approved of his 
design, he was furnished with testimonials which 
secured for him a cordial reception in England, and 
4i prepared his way," as he said, " into the very best 
society in the kingdom." 

Josiah carried his boards to Boston, with a con- 
siderable cargo of the same kind of lumber for the 
Boston market. Through the interposition of 
mercantile friends, he obtained permission to send 
them on to England in the ship which was freighted 
with a cargo of American products designed for 


exhibition in the Crystal Palace. " They were 
excellent specimens," said Josiah, u about seven 
feet in length, and four feet in width, of superb 
grain and texture. On their arrival in England, I 
had them planed and perfectly polished in the 
French style, so that they actually shone like a 

Their transport to England in the American 
vessel led to an amusing episode, which we cannot 
do better than relate in Josiah's own words. 
" Because my boards happened to be carried over 
in the American ship, the superintendent of the 
American department, who was from Boston city, 
(I think his name was Riddle,) insisted that my 
lumber should be exhibited in the American 
department, and thus add to its beauty. To this I 
objected. I was a citizen from Canada, and my 
boards were from Canada, and there was a portion 
of the building appropriated to the exhibition of 
Canadian products. I therefore contended that 
my boards should be removed from the American 
to the Canadian department. ' But,' said the 
American, ' you cannot do it. All these things are 
under my control. You can exhibit what belongs 
to you, if you please, but not a single thing here 
must be moved an inch without my consent.' 

" This was rather a damper to me. I thought his 
position very absurd, but to move him or my boards, 


seemed just then beyond my power. After think- 
ing for a while over the matter, the thought occurred 
to me, ' It is only right and proper that if this 
Yankee will retain my property, the world should 
know to whom it really belongs.' I accordingly 
hired a painter to paint in large white letters on 
the top of my boards : — * This is the product of the 
industry of a fugitive slave from the United States, 
whose residence is Dawn, Canada.' This was done 
early in the morning, before he was in the habit of 
putting in an appearance. 

" In due time the American Superintendent 
came round, and found me at my post. The gaze 
of astonishment with which he read my inscription 
was very laughable to witness. His face became 
black as a thunder cloud. ' Look here, Sir,' said 
he, ' what under heaven have you got up there ?' 
* O, that is only a little information to let the people 
know who I am, where I came from, and that the 
boards are my property from Canada.' — * But, don't 
you know better than that ? Do you suppose I am 
going to have that insult up there ? ' A number of 
English gentlemen began to gather around, chuck- 
ling with half-suppressed delight, to see the wrath 
of the Yankee. This only added fuel to the fire. 
1 Well, Sir,' said he, ■ do you suppose I am 
going to bring that stuff across the Atlantic for 
nothing ?' — ' I have never asked you to bring it for 


nothing. I am ready to pay you any reasonable 
charge, and have been from the beginning.' — 
'Well, Sir, you may take it away, and carry it 
where you please.' — ' O,' said I, ' I think, as you 
wanted it so very much, to add to your own col- 
lection, I will not disturb it. You can have it now ; 
for I think it is very well just where it is.' — * No, 
Sir,' he roared, ' you must take it away.' — ( I beg 
your pardon, Sir,' said I, c when I wanted to re- 
move it, you would not allow me to do so: and 
now, so far as I am concerned, it shall remain. 
That inscription which I have put at the top just 
answers all my purpose, and everybody who looks 
at it will understand what the articles are, and 
where they came from.' 

" A large crowd had by this time gathered around, 
to whom I explained the cause of the altercation. 
They enjoyed the fun very much, and so did I. 
The result was that by the following day the boards 
were removed to their proper place in the Canadian 
department, without any expense to me : and no 
bill was ever presented to me for the freight of the 
lumber across the Atlantic. 

" It is but fitting and proper that I should say, 
my humble contribution to that immense Exhibition 
received its due share of attention. Many inter- 
esting conversations did I have with individuals of 
that almost innumerable multitude from every 


nation under heaven. Perhaps my complexion at- 
tracted attention ; but nearly all who passed paused 
to look at me, and at themselves, as reflected in my 
large black walnut mirrors. Amongst others the 
Queen of England, Victoria, preceded by her guide, 
and attended by a large cortege, paused to look 
upon me and my property. I uncovered my head, 
and saluted her Majesty as respectfully as I could ; 
and she was pleased with perfect grace to return 
my salutation. ' Is he indeed a fugitive slave ?' I 
heard her Majesty inquire ; and the answer was ? 
' He is indeed, and that is his work/ " 

Josiah went to Canada and back again during 
the progress of the World's Great Fair, leaving his 
boards on exhibition ; and he was glad to under- 
take the journey, as the time, after being there 
awhile, wore heavily away. On his return, he 
says : — 

" There seemed to be no diminution of the crowd. 
.Like the waters of the Mississippi, the channel was 
still full, though the individuals were changed." 

" But among all the exhibitors from every nation 
In Europe, and from Asia, and America, and the 
Isles of the Sea, there was not a single black 
man but myself. There were Negroes there 
from Africa, brought to be exhibited, but no Negro 
exhibitors, except myself. Though my condition 
was wonderfully changed from what it was in my 

170 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

childhood and youth, yet it was somewhat sadden- 
ing to reflect that my people were not more largely 
represented there. The time will yet come, I trust, 
when such a state of things will no longer exist. 

" At the close of the Exhibition, on my return to* 
Canada, I received from England a large quarta 
bound volume, containing a full description of all 
the objects presented at the Exhibition ; the names 
of officers of all the Committees, juries, exhibitors,, 
prizes, &c, &c. Amongst others I found my owa 
name recorded : and there were in addition awarded 
to me a bronze medal, a beautiful picture of the 
Queen and the Royal Family, and several other ob- 
jects of great interest. These things I greatly 

Josiah's journey to Canada while the Exhibition 
was in progress was caused by circumstances 
which, for a season, gave him much uneasiness ; 
and though ultimately productive of increased 
good, were yet the occasion of no small degree of 
sorrow and trouble. Some of the parties who had 
been concerned in the manual-labour school, and 
had got it by mismanagement so deeply embar- 
rassed with debt, took umbrage when the care of 
the institution was transferred to other hands, and 
their connexion with it was brought to an end. 
Against Josiah, who was the founder of the con- 
cern, and who had undertaken the management of 


the saw-mill on behalf of the association, their 
anger was particularly directed. They could not 
assail him, with any advantage, on the spot, where 
he was so well known and respected ; so they 
sought in England to embarrass and thwart his 
efforts on behalf of the institution. He had been cor- 
dially received by such men as the Revs. Thomas 
Binney, William Brock, James Sherman, Dr. 
Burns, and others, and allowed to tell his own tale 
in many of their pulpits, when he found himself 
confronted with a printed circular, representing 
him as an " impostor who was obtaining money 
under false pretences ;" stating that " he could 
exhibit no good credentials ; that whatever money 
he might obtain would not be appropriated accord- 
ing to the design of the donors ; and that he was 
an artful, though skilful and eloquent, man, who 
would deceive the public. ,, 

Josiah had, fortunately, put the credentials with 
which he had been furnished in Canada into the 
hands of a committee of gentlemen in London, 
who had been appointed for the purpose of receiv- 
ing and appropriating such monies as should be 
given for the relief of the fugitives in Upper 
Canada. The committee comprised such names as 
Gurney, Sturge, Lord Ashley, now Lord Shaftes- 
bury, and many others well-known for their associa- 
tion with every public enterprise of benevolence.. 


The gentlemen named satisfied themselves, by con- 
fronting Josiah with his accuser, of the utter ground- 
lessness of the accusations made against him. 
But, for the entire satisfaction of the public mind, 
the committee thought it advisable to send out an 
agent to Canada to inspect the manual-labour 
school and the farm, and to make a full inquiry 
into the matter there : and they advised Josiah to 
accompany him. John Scobell, of the Society of 
Friends, was the person selected for this duty ; and 
he and Josiah proceeded to Canada. The result 
w r as entirely satisfactory to the committee, who paid 
Josiah's expenses for the journey; and so aided 
him in the object of his mission that the v/hole debt 
on the manual-labour school was paid off, and the 
concern placed on a much more prosperous footing 
than it had ever been before. "And receiving 
honourable testimonials from eminent persons in 
England, I returned home to Canada,'' he said, 
ft contented, happy, and thankful to God, who had 
graciously directed my footsteps, and prospered 
me in my way beyond my most sanguine expecta- 

During his stay in England Josiah was intro- 
duced to many persons who occupied an exalted 
position in society. Amongst these was Earl Grey, 
who made a proposal to him to go to India, and 
.superintend there some efforts that were being 


made to introduce the cultivation of cotton on the 
American plan. " He promised me," said Josiah,, 
" an appointment to an official position with a good 
salary. Had it not been for the warm interest I 
felt in the Canadian enterprise, I should have 
accepted it." 

He cherished a lively and happy remembrance of 
a day spent in the beautiful park of Lord John 
Russell, then prime minister of England. It was a 
party of Sunday-school teachers who were favoured 
with this privilege, and Josiah was honoured with 
an invitation to accompany them. " It was," he 
said, " what in America we should call a pic-nic,, 
with this difference, that instead of each teacher 
providing his own cakes, and pies, and fruit, they 
were furnished by men and women, who were 
allowed to come on the grounds with every variety 
of choice articles for sale." In the evening they 
were sent for by the noble proprietor to visit the 
elegant mansion belonging to the estate, where the 
whole party were ushered into " a spacious dining- 
hall, whose dimensions could not have been less 
than a hundred feet by sixty; " and here they found 
tables handsomely and luxuriously furnished, to 
which they were made welcome. Josiah was 
invited to take the head of the table. "I never 
felt so highly honoured," said he. " A blessing was 
invoked by singing two appropriate verses of a. 

174 josiah: the maimed fugitive, 

hymn, and then we set to, and did honour to the 
noble earl's hospitality. After which, various 
speeches were delivered by the Rev. William Brock, 
the Hon. S. M. Peto, and others, and then we 
returned home. Thus ended one of the pleasantest 
days of my life." 

Through Mr. Samuel Gurney, Josiah was 
introduced to the Archbishop of Canterbury; and 
of this interview which he had with the prelate he 
gave the following interesting account : — 

11 His Grace received me kindly at his palace, and 
immediately entered into conversation with me 
upon the condition of my people, and the plans I 
had in view. He expressed the strongest interest 
in me and the work to which I had devoted myself. 
After about half an hour's conversation upon 
these topics, he inquired, 'At what university, 
Sir, did you graduate ? ' ' I graduated, your Grace,' 
said I, in reply, 'at the University of Adversity.' 
'The University of Adversity!' said he, looking 
puzzled and astonished ; ■ where is that ? ' I saw his 
surprise, and explained, ' It was my lot, your Grace, 
:said I, 'to be born a slave, and to pass my boyhood 
and all the earlier part of my life in slavery. I 
never entered a school, never read the Bible in my 
youth, and received all my training in adverse and 
suffering circumstances. This, your Grace, is what 
I meant by graduating in the University of Adver- 


sity.' ' I understand you, Sir,' said he ; ■ but is it 
possible that you are not a scholar ? ■ * I am not,' 
said I. ' But I should not have suspected from your 
conversation that you are not a liberally educated 
man. I have heard many Negroes talk, but have 
not met with one that could use such good language 
as you do. Will you tell me how you learned our 
language so well ? ' I then explained to him, as 
well as I could, the history of my early life, and 
that from my youth it had always been my custom 
to observe good speakers carefully, and to imitate 
only those who seemed to speak most correctly and 
euphoniously. * It is astonishing ! ' said the Arch- 

"'And is it possible,' he inquired, continuing 
the conversation, * that you were brought up igno- 
rant of religion ? How did you attain to the 
knowledge of Christ ? ' I explained to him in reply, 
how my poor ignorant slave mother had taught me 
to say the Lord's Prayer, though I did not know at 
that time what it really was to pray. ' And how 
were you led to a better knowledge of the Saviour ? ' 
I answered that it was by hearing the Gospel 
preached by a Methodist local preacher. He then 
asked me to repeat the text, and to explain all the 
circumstances. I did so, and told him of the first 
sermon I heard preached from the text, * He, by 
the grace of God, tasted death for every man,' and 

176 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

described the impression it made upon my mind and 
heart, and the results to which it led, giving a new 
colour and current to the whole course of my life* 
* A beautiful text was that,' said his Grace ; and so 
affected was he by my simple narrative that he shed 
tears freely while I was speaking. 

" I had been told by my friend, Mr. Gurney, that 
perhaps the Archbishop would give me an interview 
of a quarter of an hour. On glancing at the clock 
I found that we had been conversing an hour and a 
half, and rose to take my departure. He followed 
me to the door, and requested me, if I ever came 
to England again, to call and see him. Shaking 
hands affectionately with me, while the tears still 
trembled in his eyes, he put into my hands five 
bright new sovereigns, and bade me adieu. Surely, 
thought I, as I took my departure, this is a warm- 
hearted Christian man." 

Chapter xiv. 


osiah had very sue 
cessfully accomplished 
the object of his visit 
to England, and ob- 
tained all the pecuni- 
ary aid he needed, and 
more than he had ventured to 
hope for, when he received the 
intelligence from Canada that his 
beloved wife, who had been for 
many years the partner of all his sorrows and joys, 
was lying at the point of death, and earnestly 
desired to see him once more on earth. The letter 
conveying the afflictive news reached his hands on 
the 3rd of September. On the 4th he was on his 
way to Liverpool ; and on the 5th was on board the 
"Canada" steamer, bound to Boston. On the 
20th of the same month he arrived in his own 
Canadian home, to the great comfort of his afflicted 

N " 

178 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

Having heard nothing from them since he 
received the first intimation of his wife's illness, it 
was with fear and trembling that he approached 
the house, dreading to hear that the faithful and 
affectionate wife, who had travelled with him, sad, 
weary, and footsore, on a journey of many hundreds 
of miles when they fled together with their children 
from the land of bondage, had passed away, and 
that he should behold her no more on this side of 
the grave. But this fear was removed when four 
of his daughters, perceiving his approach, rushed 
out to embrace and welcome him in the yard, and 
there assured him that the loved one was yet 
among the living. They were greatly delighted at 
his return, which they had not looked for so soon ; 
but they begged him not to go in " to see mother " 
until they had prepared her to receive him ; thinking 
that the excitement of his too sudden appearance 
in the sick chamber would be too great for the 
shattered nerves and wasted frame of the sufferer 
to endure. Repairing to the room, they gradually 
and carefully imparted the gladdening information, 
and prepared her for the meeting for which she had 
scarcely dared to hope. 

When he went to her bedside, he says, " She 
received me with the calmness and fortitude of the 
true Christian, and even chided me for the strong 
emotions of sorrow which I found it impossible to 


suppress. I found her peaceful and happy, perfectly 
resigned to the will of God, and calmly awaiting 
the hour when she should be summoned to her 
glorious rest in the spirit-land." 

The arrival of the husband whom she fondly 
loved seemed to impart new vigour to the dying 
wife. The change was so great as to inspire the 
hope, for a brief season, that she might be restored 
to health. It was not, however, so to be. Her 
life, which had seemed so near its close, was pro- 
longed for a few weeks ; during which Josiah had 
the melancholy satisfaction of watching at the bed-' 
side of the patient sufferer, and ministering such 
consolation as he was able to impart when severe 
pains tried her to the uttermost. At length the 
summons came. She blessed her husband and 
children, commending them to the ever-watchful 
care of that Saviour who for many years had been 
precious to her, and whose all-sufficient grace had 
sustained her in the hour of trial. " After kissing 
me and each one of the children," said Josiah, " she 
passed from earth to heaven without a pang or a 
groan, as gently as the falling to sleep of an infant 
on its mother's breast." 

Josiah's efforts to benefit his race, especially 
that portion of them who had effected their escape 
from bondage, and found their way to Canada, were 
very successful. Large numbers of fugitives, when 

n 2 


they got clear of the slave states, settled in the 
cities of the North. But there, especially after the 
passing of the Fugitive Slave Bill, their condition 
was unsafe ; as they were liable to be recognized 
and seized, and sent back to the tender mercies of 
their former owners. This was actually the case 
with some, who were arrested and consigned again 
to the slave-land. But it could not be the case with 
those who extended their flight to Canad?. There y 
secure under the protection of the British flag, the 
prowling slave-hunter could not reach them, and 
they could bid defiance to the whole slave-holding- 
power. The knowledge of this fact spread very 
widely among the slaves of the Southern States. 
It became extensively known among these victims 
of oppression that there, far away beneath the 
North Star, not so far but they would be able to 
reach it, lay a pleasant land, where all enjoyed the 
sweets of liberty, and none could be held in bondage. 
This knowledge gave wings to multitudes, and the 
number who plunged into the swamps and forests 
of the South, en route to this promised land, rapidly 
increased. Some were pursued and brought back 
again, and subjected to fearful tortures by their 
exasperated owners. In some few instances, when 
overtaken, they fought with and killed their pur- 
suers, rather than be carried back again to 
slavery. But a large number evaded all pursuit, 


and made good their escape, and through terrible 
privations and dangers gained a footing in the land 
of the free. To these Josiah became a true bene- 
factor ; not only preaching to them the everlasting 
Gospel, and pointing them to the sinner's Friend, but 
^nablingthem, with his wise counsels, and judicious 
aid, to settle themselves and their families in such 
positions as wo uld yield them comfort and plenty. 

When, in 1 830, he fled to Canada, there were 
but a few hundred fugitive slaves who had found 
their way thither. In the year 1858, when I first 
met with him in Boston, there were not less than 
thirty-five thousand. He found them, on his arrival 
there, scattered in all directions, and for the most 
part miserably poor, subsisting not unfrequently on 
the roots and herbs of the fieldis : but, owing chiefly 
to his well-conceived plans and judicious advice, 
many of them had become the owners of large and 
valuable farms, and were bringing up their families 
in great comfort; while few could be found in 
destitution and want. " In 1830," said Josiah, 
4i there were no schools among the Canada fugitives, 
and no churches. We have now numerous churches, 
and they are well filled from Sabbath to Sabbath 
with attentive hearers. Our children attend the 
Sabbath school, and are being trained, as we trust* 
for heaven. We depend principally upon our farms 
for subsistence ; but some of our number are good 

182 josiah: the maimed fugitive. 

mechanics — blacksmiths, carpenters, masons, shoe- 
makers, tailors, &c, &c. We have found the rais- 
ing of stock very profitable, and can show some of 
the finest specimens of horseflesh that are to be 
found on this continent. We find a ready market 
for all our products. The soil is fertile, and yields 
an abundant return for the husbandman's labour* 
Although the season for cultivation is short, yet 
ordinarily it is long enough to ripen corn (maize), 
wheat, rye, oats, and the various productions of a 
Northern New England or New York farm. 

" Of late considerable attention has been paid to» 
the cultivation of fruit, — apples, cherries, plums* 
peaches, quinces, currants, gooseberries,, straw- 
berries, &c. ; and I doubt not that in a few years 
they will be very profitable. It is a mistaken idea 
which many persons have, that vines and other 
fruit trees cannot be cultivated to advantage in 
Canada, on account of the severity of the climate* 
I have raised as delicious sweet potatoes on my 
farm as I ever saw in Kentucky, and as good a 
crop of tobacco and hemp. The climate is good ; 
the soil is rich : we are protected by just and im- 
partial laws, so that free from molestation we can 
sit secure and happy under ' our own vine and fig; 
tree.' We are a temperate people ; and it is a 
rare sight to behold an intoxicated coloured maa 
amongst our settlements in Canada.'' 


When I met with Josiah at Boston, in the year 
1858, he was sixty-nine years of age, but blithe 
and active as a youth of sixteen. I shall not readily 
forget the rollicking enjoyment with which he 
related to me some of his experiences of Canadian 
life. He was a happy Christian, always looking 
upon the bright side of things, and always cherish- 
ing a spirit of lively gratitude to God, whose boun- 
tiful hand he recognised in all the mercies of his 
chequered life. Amongst many incidents, some of a 
more sombre and some of an amusing character, with 
which he entertained me and others when we met 
at the house of a mutual friend, was the manner in 
which he disposed of a candidate for parliamentary 
honours, who had failed to give satisfaction to his 
coloured constituents by his conduct in the Colonial 

Josiah possessed a large amount of influence 
throughout the coloured population of Upper 
Canada. Amongst these the possession of pro- 
perty gave to a large number the right of voting at 
the election of representatives in Parliament. Being: 
regarded as the leading man of his own class, he 
was waited upon by the individual in question, 
who requested his vote and influence in an ap- 
proaching election ; and used, as Josiah expressed 
it, " abundance of soft sawder to gain his end." 
11 No, Mr. ■ , I can't vote for you : and I 


think it only fair to tell you that I intend to put 
you out." "O no, you surely do not mean that !" 
" Yes, I do mean it; and I tell you, you will not 
go into Parliament again to represent this place." 
41 But why? What have I done ? Tell me the rea- 
son. " " Well, the reason is, that we don't like you, 
and that is all about it." "But why? Tell me 
what I have done to be treated so." " It don't 
matter to talk about it : we don't like you, and we 
don't approve your conduct : and, as far as we are 
concerned, you will never go into Parliament again." 
" But tell me what I have done that you don't ap- 
prove, and perhaps I can explain." " Well, as you 
will have me to speak out ; First, You are a 
drunkard, and we do not approve of that. Second, 
Youflippantly spoke against and disparaged my 
people, who were not in a position to help or 
answer for themselves ; and we do not approve of 
that. Thirdly, You don't speak the truth. We do 
not approve of that ; and therefore we will have no 
more of you." " Well, you may do what you can ; 
but I shall get in, in spite of you." " No, you won't. 
We can keep you out; and we mean to do it. I'll 
tell you what I shall do. I can get six good teams, 
and I shall have them all at work to take the voters 
to the poll ; and you will find that we are quite 
strong enough to turn you out and put a better 
man in." "And we kept our word," saidjosiah, 


rubbing his hands with delighted glee." When the 
returns were made, he had lost his election by a majo - 
rity of eight hundred in favour of his opponent, whom 
we had brought forward ; and who was admonished 
that he too would be turned out at the next elec- 
tion if he did not do well. ,, "We exact no pledges," 
said Josiah to the new representative. " We send 
you to Parliament free and unfettered. Act as a 
man of conscience and truth, and we'll sustain you- 
If you do otherwise, fouryears" (the term for which 
members were elected) " will soon be gone, and then 
we shall cut you adrift." 

Soon after this election he started on a business, 
journey, and was away for some weeks. " And 
O, my dear Sir," he said, addressing me, "what 
wonderful things the Lord did for me while I was 
away, to be sure !" And the old man's countenance 
became radiant with enjoyment, as he threw him- 
self back to enjoy another hearty laugh. " When 
I arrived at home, the first thing I learnt was, bless 
the Lord for it ! that eight of my children had been 
converted. As I approached the house, I heard 
songs of praise proceeding from within; and when 
I entered, I was greeted with the delightful intelli- 
gence that a wonderful work of grace had been 
going on in my household, and eight of my children, 
over whom I had poured out many anxious prayers,, 
had experienced that Divine change which had. 


made them the children of God by faith in Christ 
Jesus. How greatly did my heart rejoice at this 
crowning mercy, which the Lord had vouchsafed to 
His unworthy servant ! And with what gratitude 
did I that night bow my knees before Him, who is 
the Giver of every good and perfect gift ! The follow- 
ing morning I went to look over my little farm ; and 
the next thing I learned was that my favourite sow 
had a litter of eight pigs, and they were all white. 
Only think ! Eight pigs, and all of them white ! I 
never was the owner of so many white pigs, though I 
had many who were black like myself. I then went 
to look over my sheep ; and there I found that the 
Lord had given me sixteen lambs in my absence. 
After that I learned that my cows had yielded me 
four fine calves, and that our favourite mare had 
the finest colt running at her heels that she had 
ever borne. And last of all," and again he threw 
himself back with an exuberant outburst of 
laughter, " the Lord had given me four grand- 
children. * Wife,' said I, when I returned to the 
house, c I have only been away a few weeks ; what 
is all this that you have been doing ? ' i Doing? ' 
she said, ' we have only been fulfilling the Divine 
command, to multiply and replenish the earth. 
The Lord has been dealing very bountifully with 
us, and we ought to praise him for all His mercies.' 
I agreed with her; and we bowed our knees 


together in thanksgiving to the Giver of all temporal 
as well as spiritual blessings, who had delivered 
us out of slavery, and poverty, and wretchedness, 
and brought us into a large and wealthy place." 

Josiah has lived to see all his fellow-bondsmen in 
the Southern States freed from the yoke of slavery, 
by a wonderful series of providences which are 
highly instructive and admonitory. I have not met 
him since 1858, but have frequently heard of him 
as living in Upper Canada, and enjoying in a high 
degree the respect and veneration of all around 
him. He still labours to do good, though he has 
reached the advanced age of eighty-four. A few 
months ago, I saw in a Canadian newspaper an 
advertisement relating to a convention called for 
a religious purpose, in which Josiah was named as 
one of the persons expected to take an active part 
in the proceedings. . 




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